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News and Views: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: Sold for a Playstation and a Car

June 2, 2013

Twelve year old Fatima was sold into marriage to a fifty year old man in 2010. Her father Ali, who was unemployed and addicted to drugs, sold her into marriage for a sum of 40,000 Saudi Riyals (approximately £7,000), which he used to buy himself a car.

 

Saudi Arabia: "There is not one law in Saudi Arabia that regards violence toward women as an illegal activity": what's really behind Saudi's domestic abuse problem?

May 29, 2013

Saudi Arabia has introduced a campaign aimed at tackling domestic violence against women in the kingdom. The King Khalid Foundation funds the campaign, which is a royal, family-run organization with clear ties to the Saudi government.

 

Saudi Arabia: Women warned not to hug each other or face mental examination

May 17, 2013

A Saudi Arabian website shared a document allegedly issued by an all female university warning them to not “hug” each other or they would face being transferred to a mental examination by the school.

‘Prostitutes’: Saudi cleric insults recently-appointed female Shura members

February 24, 2013

A controversial Saudi cleric used Twitter to publicly insult the recently-appointed female members of the Shura Council.

Saudi Arabia: King Invites Women To Join The Debate ... From Another Room

January 14, 2013

King Abdullah kept a promise to Saudi Arabia's women last week, when he appointed 30 of them to four-year terms in the new Consultative Assembly, the pseudo-legislature that advises the monarch on laws and regulations.

As usual with such developments in Saudi Arabia, there is a catch: The women will have to meet in a room separate from the men.

Islamic feminism: fighting discrimination, inspired by faith

November 29, 2012

Islamic feminists embrace their faith, culture and tradition while fiercely advocating for legislative reforms and interpretations that reflect a more modern understanding of women's role in society.

Saudi Arabia: Morality Policy New Guidelines to Not Harass Women

October 26, 2012

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—The cleric who heads the Saudi morality police said he is taking steps to rein in the force, the latest move by authorities aimed at improving the position of women in Saudi society amid a public outcry in social media.

Sheik Abdulatif al-Sheikh, appointed by King Abdullah in January to head the religious police, told The Wall Street Journal that he plans to distribute guidelines to all members of his force making clear that they don't have the power to arrest or interrogate Saudi citizens, or to attend trials.

Saudi Arabia: Come November Female Lawyers will be allowed to serve in court

October 17, 2012

A justice ministry directive published Tuesday by Kuwait’s Al-Waton Daily announcing that women lawyers in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to plead cases in court for the first time starting in November has been circulating in celebration in social media and regional newspapers.

Saudi Arabia: Breakthrough feature film "Wadjda" narrates the story of a 10 year old girl breaking social barriers

October 11, 2012

“Wadjda” is not only one of the first films to come out of Saudi Arabia, even more significantly it is the first feature written and directed by a Saudi Arabian woman, the talented Haifaa Al Mansour.
Saudi Arabia’s first female director has made her debut at the Venice film festival, exploring the limitations placed on women in the conservative Islamic kingdom through the tale of a strong-willed 10-year-old girl living in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia: Broken Pledge to Send Women to London Games Should Trigger Ban

July 11, 2012

(London) – Saudi Arabia’s announcementthat it would not send any female athletes to compete in the London Olympics despite its recent pledge to do so highlights the need to overturn the fundamental barriers to women playing sports in the kingdom, Human Rights Watch said today. The International Olympic Committee should bar Saudi Arabia from participating in the 2012 Games because of its clear violation of the Olympic Charter.

Is Pleasure a Sin?

June 5, 2012

It’s hard to say what is weirder:

A Sister of Mercy writing about the Kama Sutra, sexual desire and “our yearnings for pleasure.”

Or the Vatican getting so hot and bothered about the academic treatise on sexuality that the pope censures it, causing it to shoot from obscurity to the top tier of Amazon.com’s best-seller list six years after it was published.

Just the latest chapter in the Vatican’s thuggish crusade to push American nuns — and all Catholic women — back into moldy subservience.

Saudi Arabia: Manal al-Sharif - 'They just messed with the wrong woman'

May 23, 2012

She is the Saudi woman who became a symbol of female emancipation when she was filmed behind the wheel of a car. In a rare interview, she tells Guy Adams of the persecution she has endured in her fight for equality – and why she will not be silenced.

Why do they hate us? - Mona Eltahawy

April 23, 2012

In "Distant View of a Minaret," the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband's repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, "as though purposely to depriv

Saudi Arabia: Binding Women to Restrictions is about Control, not Religion

April 22, 2012

Binding women to restrictions. Many in Saudi Arabia point out, quoting scholars, that it is not an Islamic issue but one of control.

Olympics Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia Over Discrimination

February 16, 2012

In an extensive report released Wednesday, Human Rights Watch, a New-York based advocacy group, called on the International Olympic Committee to take a harder line with Saudi Arabia’s national Olympic committee unless it enacted significant sports reforms.

Women in Authoritarian States

February 1, 2012

It’s not just about cars, argues Madawi Al-Rasheed. News reports from Saudi Arabia often appear bizarre and outrageous: young women lashed for defying a driving ban; women accused of witchcraft beheaded; victims of rape stoned to death. Such practices are not unusual in Saudi Arabia and regularly exposed by organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Saudi Women, Shifting Gears, Sue for Right to Drive

February 7, 2012

RIYADH - A court in Saudi Arabia agreed to hear the first lawsuits by Saudi women challenging the kingdom's de facto ban on women driving, a lawyer for one of the women said.

Saudi Arabia: Hopes for More Social Freedoms Under New Religious Police Chief

January 25, 2012

RIYADH: The appointment of a moderate to head the feared Saudi religious police has raised hopes that a more lenient force will ease draconian social constraints in the kingdom, but human rights activists remain skeptical.

Less than two weeks into his post as chief of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Sheikh Abdul-Latif Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh banned volunteers from serving in the commission, a move designed to curb the group’s most outrageous violations.

Saudi Arabia: Reformist Cleric Named to Enforce Saudi Morals

January 14, 2012

RIYADH—Saudi Arabia's king replaced the hard-line chief of the country's morality police with a more liberal cleric who has encouraged greater women's rights, a change welcomed by activists as a sign that the monarchy would continue to pursue cautious social reforms in the face of political upheaval in the Middle East.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud on Friday appointed Sheik Abdulatif al-Sheikh to oversee the religious police, who roam the kingdom's shopping malls and streets enforcing a rigorous version of Islamic law among the 27 million residents of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia: Women Resist Male Guardianship Laws

January 18, 2012

Mona Hamid left Saudi Arabia 8 years ago for a career in marketing in Dubai. Now, the mother of two and a career woman is fighting back against what she calls the archaic practice of male guardianship in her home country.

“When I wanted to leave Saudi Arabia after university, I had to get permission from my father, and that took a lot of convincing,” she told Bikyamasr.com. “I had to explain why this was a good idea and how I would still be able to find a husband.”

Saudi Arabia: Women to Run and Vote in Municipal Elections without Male Approval

December 28, 2011

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Women in Saudi Arabia will not need a male guardian's approval to run or vote in municipal elections in 2015, when women will also run for office for the first time, a Saudi official said Wednesday.

The change signifies a step forward in easing the kingdom's restrictions against women, but it falls far short of what some Saudi reformers are calling for.

Saudi Arabia: Law May Fine & Shame for Sexual Harassment

December 7, 2011

Men who are found guilty of harassing women in Saudi Arabia will be publicly shamed and fined, according to a new legislation that is still being drafted.

Saudi Arabia: Woman Convicted Of 'Sorcery' Executed

December 12, 2011

Saudi authorities have executed a woman convicted of practicing magic and sorcery. The Saudi Interior Ministry says in a statement the execution took place Monday, but gave no details on the woman's crime.

Saudi Arabia: Conservative Cleric Argues Driving Right Will Result in 'End of Virginity'

December 8, 2011

Conservative academic Kamal Subhi has presented a report to Saudi Arabia's legislative assembly, the Shura Council, claiming that the removal of the driving ban for women will lead to increased prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.

Saudi Arabia: Why is No One Protecting Child Brides?

November 8, 2011

Atgaa, 10, and her sister Reemya, 8, are about to be married to men in their 60s. Atgaa will be her husband's fourth wife. Their wedding celebrations are scheduled for this week and will take place in the town of Fayaadah Abban in Qasim, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia: We Say "Yes" to Women's Full Enjoyment of their Rights

October 2, 2011

The Violence is Not our Culture (VNC) Campaign welcomes long awaited and recent reforms announced by King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud, that promise to gives Saudi Arabian women the rights to vote and run for office in municipal council elections, and to become full voting members of the next Shura council. The promise to increase women’s participation in civic life is a tribute to women’s efforts on the ground who have been campaigning inside the country, despite strict and rigid opposition.

Saudi Arabia: Woman Driver Pardoned from Lashing by King Abdullah

August 29, 2011

Saudi woman sentenced to be lashed 10 times for defying the country's ban on female drivers has had her punishment overturned by the king.

The woman, named as Shaima Jastaina and believed to be in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission in Jeddah in July. Her case was the first in which a legal punishment was handed down for a violation of the ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.

Saudi Arabia: Court Orders Lashing of Woman for Defying Driving Ban

September 27, 2011

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.

The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.

Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.

In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.

Saudi Arabia: Voting Reform Excludes Other Forms of Discrimination

September 26, 2011

(Amman) September 26, 2011 – King Abdullah’s announcement that women will be able to participate in municipal elections in 2015 and become members of the consultative Shura Council is a long overdue step toward greater participation of women in public life, Human Rights Watch said today. In his statement on September 25, 2011, Abdullah made no reference to reforming other areas of discrimination against women, such as the guardianship system that authorizes male control over women and the ban on women driving. 

Saudi Arabia: King Grants Women the Right to Vote

September 25, 2011

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Sunday granted women the right to vote and run in future municipal elections, the biggest change in a decade for women in a puritanical kingdom that practices strict separation of the sexes, including banning women from driving.

Saudi Arabia: Efforts to include human rights in syllabuses

September 7, 2011

JEDDAH: Chairman of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) Mufleh Al-Qahtani has said the organization is making efforts to introduce the subject of human rights in higher and general education syllabuses in Saudi Arabia. 

“The organization has put a special emphasis on this issue, held seminars and carried out activities in this regard,” he said on Tuesday. 

Al-Qahtani said a joint workshop between the organization and the Ministry of Education made specific recommendations on the issue that were currently being studied. 

Saudi Arabia: Call for Family Courts

August 16, 2011

Family courts should be set up in the Kingdom and couples undergo pre-marital counseling to help counter increasing instances of domestic violence and help save marriages. This has been proposed by Dr. Waleed Al-Sadoon, an adviser at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call (Dawah) and Guidance. “This will help curtail family violence cases that have spread in our society.” Al-Sadoon also called for a center to be set up to deal with cases involving assault of male and female students. The center should be connected to schools, hospitals and the police, according to Al-Sadoon.

Saudi Arabia to set minimum marriage age following surge in such weddings

July 25, 2011

Saudi Arabia intends to set a minimum age for girls allowed to marry under a new law intended to curb child marriages following a surge in such a phenomenon in the conservative Gulf Kingdom.

The ministry of justice is working on a regulation banning the marriage of female minors, most of which are forced by their fathers to marry much older men for dowry or other personal purposes, newspapers said.

Saudi Arabia: 5 women detained for driving, activist says

June 29, 2011

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabian police detained 5 women for defying the conservative kingdom's driving ban, an activist said on Wednesday, although police said they had detained only one.

"All the cases were in Jeddah and we were really surprised to hear this because this was not the case before," said Saudi activist Eman al-Nafjan.

Saudi Arabia: Women challenging male guardianship laws

June 29, 2011

When she was a little girl, Samia* would practice medical procedures on watermelons. Back then, her dream was to become a successful surgeon and to marry a good man.

"I started to dream of the [wedding] gown when I was 10 or 11 years old. I dreamed of forming a small family - having a kid like my mum and to be a surgeon at the same time".

More than 30 years on, Samia is a fully-qualified doctor.

A Conversation With Saudi Women's Rights Campaigner Wajeha Al-Huwaider

June 8, 2011


Wajeha al-Huwaider is perhaps the best-known Saudi campaigner for women’s rights, human rights and democracy. She has protested energetically against the kingdom’s lack of formal laws (the Koran is it) and basic freedoms and in particular against the guardianship system, under which every female, from birth to death, needs the permission of a male relative to make decisions in all important areas of life—education, travel, marriage, employment, finances, even surgery. Katha Pollitt

Saudi Arabia: Shoura council favors women voting

June 7, 2011


The Shoura Council recommended to the government on Monday that it take necessary measures to allow Saudi women to vote in municipal elections under Islamic law.

The decision was taken unanimously by members of the council, which also discussed the annual report of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs during its 38th regular session, chaired by the Shoura Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh in Riyadh on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia: Possible move to ban child brides

June 7, 2011

In a country where no laws protect children from marriage, efforts to make wedlock more female-friendly raises conservatives’ ire.

Saudi Arabia: Arrest of Woman Leading Right-to-Drive Campaign

May 23, 2011


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The government of Saudi Arabia moved swiftly to extinguish a budding protest movement of women claiming the right to drive, a campaign inspired by uprisings across the Arab world demanding new freedoms but at risk Monday of foundering.

Manal al-Sharif, 32, one of the campaign organizers, was detained Sunday in the eastern city of Dammam for up to five days on charges of disturbing public order and inciting public opinion by twice driving in a bid to press her cause, said her lawyer, Adnan al-Saleh.

Saudi Arabia: Free Woman Who Dared to Drive

May 23, 2011


(Beirut) - King Abdullah should immediately order the release of Manal al-Sharif, who was arrested on the morning of May 22, 2011, after she defied the kingdom's de facto ban on driving by women, Human Rights Watch said today.

She had  posted a video on YouTube showing herself behind the wheel and describing the inconveniences not being able to drive causes women. Prosecutors charged al-Sharif with besmirching the kingdom's reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion, according to Saudi press reports. King Abdullah should lift the de facto ban, Human Rights Watch said.

Saudi Arabia: Women try to 'buy' their freedom to work

May 12, 2011


ABHA: Saudi workingwomen have embarked on new ways to win the consent of their male legal guardians or husbands to  take a job. This is so in jobs where there are still strong taboos about women working in them.

Many Saudi workingwomen set aside a portion of their monthly income, which enables them to win the consent of their male guardians as well as to enjoy full freedom to do job, according to a report in Al-Riyadh Arabic daily.

Saudi Arabia: Let Women Vote, Run for Office

March 31, 2011


(Beirut) - The Saudi government's refusal to let women vote in municipal elections in September 2011 unlawfully deprives women of their rights to full and equal status under the law, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on the election committee to allow women to vote and to run for seats on the municipal councils.

Middle East: Growth of Social Networking Media

March 15, 2011


"The freedom conferred by anonymity encouraged Saudi Arabia women to embrace the Internet. Since more than half of Saudi blogs are reportedly written by women, gender issues are regularly addressed."

For more than 30 years, the subject of political reform in most of the Middle East was largely a part of covert debates. In little more than 30 days, however, it has forcibly entered the realm of the overt.

Saudi Arabia: Women Encouraged to Address Wide Issues in Society

March 11, 2011


RIYADH: The women's wing of the Human Rights Commission recently met with women consultants at the Shoura Council to exchange views on social development issues.

Social activist May Al-Issa, who was one of the consultants to attend the meeting, called on society to refrain from emphasizing women's issues and rights excessively, pointing out that it could alienate society further.

Al-Issa also indicated that certain council initiatives came as a result of citizens’ complaints or suggestions.

Saudi Arabia: Away from the cities, women take to the roads

February 10, 2011


JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Whenever Hawazen Ebrahim’s family spends an evening picnicking in the desert outside of Medina, it’s her job to jump into the car and drive to the nearest village to load up on extra supplies. During the week, she is responsible for taking the kids to school and picking them up each day.

Saudi Arabia: Human Rights Commission Speaks Against Marriage of Minors

October 8, 2010


The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called upon individuals, civil groups and the media to stand against the marriage of minors, describing the marriage of young girls to older males as a “violation of children’s rights found in the Convention on the Rights of the Child of which the Kingdom is a signatory”.


The government-affiliated HRC said in a press statement Wednesday that it was in the process of drawing up a legal framework to protect against the abuse of underage girls’ rights.

Saudi Arabia: Cleric calls for Muslim maids only

July 27, 2010


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—A Saudi cleric said only Muslim housemaids should be allowed in the oil-rich country and they should be kept segregated from men in the home, an online news site reported on Tuesday.

"If there is a need to import workers as female domestics, they should be Muslims," Sheikh Yusef al-Ahmad, a strong opponent of men and women mixing in the ultra-conservative kingdom, told the sabq.org website.

Saudi Arabia: Issues of Marrying Abroad + Unmarried Saudi Women

July 10, 2010


JEDDAH - A summer programme is to be launched to educate young Saudis about the risks of entering into marriage abroad, according to Dr Tawfiq Al Suwailam, chairman of the Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awasir).

Recently, the society warned Saudis against marrying foreigners.

Talk of Women’s Rights Divides Saudi Arabia

May 31, 2010

JIDDA — Roughly two years ago, Rowdha Yousef began to notice a disturbing trend: Saudi women like herself were beginning to organize campaigns for greater personal freedoms. Suddenly, there were women asking for the right to drive, to choose whether to wear a veil, and to take a job without a male relative’s permission, all using the Internet to collect signatures and organize meetings and all becoming, she felt, more voluble by the month.

Saudi Arabia: MTV youths may face trial

June 2, 2010


SAUDI Arabia's religious police are trying to bring to court three Saudi youths for challenging the kingdom's austere lifestyle on an MTV reality show.

Saudi Arabia: 12 Year Old Girl Granted Forced Marriage Divorce from Husband 80

April 22, 2010


A girl aged 12 has won a divorce from her 80-year-old husband in Saudi Arabia in a case that may help to introduce a minimum age of marriage in the kingdom for the first time. The girl’s unusual legal challenge to the arrangement generated international media attention and scrutiny of Saudi Arabia’s record of child marriages.

It also prompted the state-run Human Rights Commission to appoint a lawyer to represent her. The commission has capitalised on the case and pushed for a legal minimum age for marriage of at least 16.

Press Release: An Influential Saudi Cleric Calls for Beheading of Apostates

Washington, DC (February 24, 2010). The Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia unequivocally denounces Shaikh Abdulrahman Al-Barrak call for the beheading of those who initiate or accept gender mingling in schools or in the work place. “They should be given one chance to repent, but if they do not, they should be considered apostate and beheaded,” Al-Barrak said.

The Center for Democracy and Human rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, Washington, DC.
www.cdhr.info

Saudi Arabia - New law will end male dominance in Saudi courts

Arab News - 21 February, 2010

Saudi Arabia's justice minister says his department is drafting a law that would allow female lawyers to argue legal cases in court for the first time.

Mohammed Al-Eissa told reporters on Saturday the bill will be issued in the coming days as part of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s “plan to develop the justice system.” The law would mark a major step for female lawyers in the Kingdom. Currently, women law graduates can work in government offices and in court offices, but cannot argue cases before court.

Saudi Princess Avoids Death by Stoning with UK Asylum

Saudi Princess Avoids Death by Stoning with UK Asylum
Written by Benjamin Joffe-Walt
Published Monday, July 20, 2009

Saudi judge: It's OK to slap spendthrift wives

(CNN) -- Husbands are allowed to slap their wives if they spend lavishly, a Saudi judge said recently during a seminar on domestic violence, Saudi media reported Sunday.

'Honour Killing’ at Lecture on Society and Abuse Cases

March 7, 2008

"Experts attending a lecture in Jeddah on Wednesday gasped in shock as Dr. Ali Al-Hanaki, director of the Social Affairs Ministry in the Western Region, spoke about the death of a young woman who was taken from a women’s shelter in Riyadh by her father and uncles, and secretly killed.

UN Calls for End to Male Guardianship in Saudi Arabia

February 1, 2008

A United Nations human rights body called on Saudi Arabia on Friday to immediately end its system of male guardianship which it said severely limits the basic freedoms of women in the kingdom.

Woman faces execution for 'witchcraft'

March 3, 2008

A leading human rights group appealed to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Thursday to stop the execution of a woman accused of witchcraft and performing supernatural acts.

States Fuel ‘honour killings’

January 31, 2008

CASABLANCA, Jan 31 (IPS) - State-directed violence, the refusal to give up the death penalty and the holding of public executions are some of the principal factors that are supporting the continuing resort to the age-old practice of 'honour killings', murder to cleanse a family name of shame.

Woman faces execution for 'witchcraft'

February 2, 2008

A leading human rights group appealed to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to stop the execution of a woman accused of witchcraft and performing supernatural acts.

Pardoning of Rape Victim Sentenced to 200 Lashes

December 18, 2008

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pardoned a female rape victim who had been sentenced to 200 lashes for being alone with a man at the time of the attack who was not related to her, reported a Saudi newspaper.