Gross violation of women rights in Arab kingdoms

Gross violation of women rights in Arab kingdoms
Tue Feb 19, 2013 20:22:46

Forced to choose between “defending women’s rights in Persian Gulf littoral states or defending its own interests”, the West, with hypocrisy and deception, picked the second choice. As a result, it has completely lost the right to blame others.

It is clear to all that the U.S. and the EU member countries have inseminated in the minds of their politicians and public opinion that Bashar Assad’s regime is a bloodsucker which kills “peace-seeking protestors” and treats its people cruelly. Recently, the protest leaders have called for release of imprisoned women as a precondition to begin direct talks with Syrian officials. The request has met the West’s approval. Iran, the ally of Syria, has also faced criticisms and objections against the policy that it pursues and the condition of human rights in its territory. Human rights defenders and advocates of “liberty, equality, and fraternity” have clung to “women’s issues” in the Islamic Republic of Iran; and bombarded the Islamic Republic with wrathful words. This is while politicians and human rights defenders have, for years, been neglecting the total violation of women’s rights in Persian Gulf littoral sultanates, and most importantly, in Saudi Arabia.
Total Absence of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia
There are people who volunteer to pay for implementation of liberty and human rights in Syria. The question that might arise is why these people refuse to examine the “perfect” country where the law prohibits the women to drive and women’s travels and education are only permissible upon the father, the guardian, or the husband’s consent? Women are not even allowed to marry without permission from their male relatives. This country is “Saudi Arabia”. Just as was the trend in the past, women in this country are not permitted to sit next to men in coffee houses. They will even be separated from men by a certain partition in the “Consultative Council” (Majlis Al-Shura), the supreme consultative institution in Saudi Arabia to which 30 women will join according to the king’s order.
The laws in this sultanate are so strict that in 2011 a women, accused of witchcraft, was beheaded by a sword. Her decapitation was performed in three stages to cause greater agony. This incident was reflected in a report by “Amnesty International”.
“Rozana Al Yami”, a Saudi female journalist, was sentenced to 60 lashes for coordinating a TV show in which Mazen Abdul Jawad, her compatriot, described his extra marital sex life. Clearly, such a topic could not be aired on a Saudi channel; it was, therefore, broadcast on a Lebanese network, but this did not save Al Yami. Combat for good morals is considered to be a national ideology in Saudi Arabia, but Saudi judges and police forces in this country combat in their unique way. Often, innocent women who are desperate for help become the targets of such combats.
For instance, in 2007, a 19-year-old girl, who was a victim of gang rape, was sentenced to 200 lashes and a 6-month jail term. He was found guilty because she was in a car with a non-Mahram man (a man she can marry). The judges did not care about the fact that not this man, but the ones who stopped the car, raped the girl. Only international upheaval and pressures from the international community lead Abdullah II, the Saudi king, to drop charges against her.
In 2009, Mrs Khamisa Sawadi, a 75-year-old widow, was sentenced to 40 lashes for association with her late husband’s 24-year-old cousin and his friend. The only charge against her was that she asked the two men to bring her bread.
Not only old women, but also young girls suffer in this sultanate. They are forced to marriage. Marriage of a 58-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl was cancelled in 2009, following a large uproar which elevated to international levels.
Interestingly, judicial authorities had previously rejected the divorce request from the girl’s mother on two occasions. The Al Saud regime does not declare how many of such cases are kept secret and have led to formation of “families”.
Such strange behavior towards women should probably meet no surprise, since women are considered to be the delicate sex; in Saudi Arabia, however, they are the “weak sex”. After all, Saudi religious preachers teach men how to beat their wives “correctly” on state TV (as religion is not separated from government in this country).
Muhammad Al Arifi, a famous scholar and writer, presented a “scientific” speech on the same topic some years ago. Al Arifi believes that women should be beaten on those parts of their body on which no mark or scare remains, while a slap on face, even on that of an animal, is prohibited. It is an interesting assimilation, which is indicative of the state of women’s social rights in a country which is one of the main allies of the U.S., this “human rights defender” in the Middle East region.
Torture of Bahraini women, the best sign of their true situation in this sultanate

The situation of women is apparently much better in Bahrain, which was nearly turning from an ally of Saudi Arabia into one of its provinces after the revolutionary events in 2011-2013. In this little sultanate, women are allowed to drive, sit next to men in restaurants, avoid wearing full veil, and even vote in elections and participate in political life. However, the events in the Lulu (Pearl) square revealed the truth. According to reports by Bahrain Center for Human Rights, four women were killed by war bullets or tear gases. Many of them were imprisoned.
No one spoke of their rights there. They were tortured, raped, and sentenced to long term (up to 15 years) imprisonment. One of them was Nadi Dhaif, a female surgeon, who had gathered the courage to help injured protestors. She was beaten, insulted, and called “the Shia pig” in the police station. She was even electrified. Dr. Dhaif was sentenced to a 15-year jail term. Dr. Fatima Haji who was Dhaif’s “sister” in this tragedy, was not only beaten by jailors regularly, but was also raped by them. Ayat al-Qurrmezi, a 21-year-old poetess, was beaten and raped in a 9-day period, and then sentenced to one-year imprisonment. Malik Hamad pardoned this young girl, probably because he thought the torture was enough for reciting a poem in which the king is criticizied. It is interesting to note that all the three above mentioned women recognized Nora Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, the Bahraini princess, among the torturers. She had a special interest in torture by electricity and items as such.
Besides such explicit insults to moral dignity and honor, as well as physical and sexual abuses at police stations, Bahraini women often feel inequality in other situations too. Prostitution is common in this country, and it has actually become a legitimate job. Women involved in this job are, in fact, slaves. Mainly, loose women from various countries from the post-Soviet states to Thailand are brought to Bahrain. The Embassy of Thailand has recently reported of an obvious case of sexual slavery in the territory of this sultanate. According to the cases revealed by the Thai Ambassador, A woman, born in “Chiang Mai” in Thailand, entered Bahrain through a company which had promised to employ her as a nurse. She did not afford the requested fee, and was, therefore, sent to work with a Saudi merchant who did not need medical care. After the expiry of her visa, they took her passport, chained her in the house, beat her, and forced her to serve them sexually. Only after a secret escape from her “employer” was she able to rescue herself
Bahrain and Qatar: Sexual Slavery behind a “Civilized Façade”

Sexual slavery has an important position in the social life in Kuwait too. For instance, Salwa Mutairi, the former TV host and a present political activist, suggested that Russian women who were captivated by the Chechen separatists be bought and sold in the soil of this emirate. According to this woman, “this is not wrong, and it is not prohibited by the Sharia (law)”. It is interesting to note that she has offered a trade plan to supply “mistresses” for Kuwaiti men. She proposed that their activity be adjusted to that of agencies which employ work force from foreign countries. She showed humanity and placed a condition that the future slaves must be over 15.
Kuwaiti female citizens do not enjoy total freedom either. In 2009, they only succeeded to obtain the permission to receive a passport without their husband’s consent. Before that, applications for a foreign passport from a woman would not be accepted without her husband’s signature. In the same year, women entered the parliament for the first time, while they were allowed to vote since 2005.
Qatari women are in the same situation. Only during the rule of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, were women allowed to vote, choose clothes within legal criteria, and drive (this issue has been addressed on several occasions in this article). Western journals often refer to Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned as a role model for a “free Muslim woman”. Few remember the fact that she graduated in Sociology, founded some cultural projects and charities, married at 18, bore 7 children, and is only the second of three wives of Emir of Qatar.
Humble Attempts to fight for Women’s Rights in the Arabian Peninsula

It seems that the situation of women in the above mentioned countries is very difficult, if not miserable. Nevertheless, there are women who are ready to defend their rights. In 2007, “Vajiha Al Hovidar” organized a Women’s Movement for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. She, along with 1100 other advocate women, even succeeded to submit a request to Malik Abdullah. Another event, which received more attention, occurred in 1990 when some famous Saudi women took advantage of the presence of foreign journalists in the capital, Riyadh, seized some automobiles, and drove a distance in one the city boulevards. This incident was very costly for those women. Some were imprisoned, some lost their top positions, and the rest left the country. Ms. Al Hovidar’s wrangles have not had a positive outcome to this date.
Human Rights activists in Bahrain have reached significant achievements. Owing to their activities, 25 women were released out of the 45 who were arrested in anti-regime protests in September, 2011. At that time, all the Shias in the country had supported the arrested activist women by holding a chain of strikes and protests.
Nonetheless, sadly there is no evidence of fundamental improvement in the situation of women in the sultanates of the Arabian Peninsula.
Women in the “Obscurantist” Iran

Women’s situation in Iran, the target of criticism from the West, is fundamentally different. Women are present in almost all aspects of economic, social, and even political life in the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to census for 2005-2010, only the number of women working in mass media has increased by 200 percent. Women have a widespread presence in the army, and there are women pilots among them. They possess their own news agency called “Islamic Republic Women News Agency” which was founded in 2005 and reflects Iranian women’s activities and issues in economy, politics, culture, and sports. There was one female vice president in Ahmadinejad’s first presidency, and two ministerial posts were assigned to women in his second presidency. There are a fairly large number of Iranian female diplomats as well. Ms. Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi was the minister of Health and Treatment until September, last year. In 2010, women occupied 5% of parliament chairs and 3% of ministerial posts. Only in the 2008-2009 school year, girls formed 51% of the students population in state universities. Girls’ interest in receiving higher education rises constantly. If we consider the history of these changes, we shall conclude that women’s presence among university students has increased by up to 70% since the Islamic revolution which is virtually an unprecedented record. Regarding the number of female automobile owners, Iranian women have by far outrun the women in the Muslim World countries, and have left women in many European countries behind. Iranian women also work as pilots, taxi drivers, and police forces. They are active in sports. For instance, in 2012, Iranian women archers stood second place in free tournaments in India. Women in the Islamic Republic of Iran are also active in martial arts. The recent video of Iranian women’s drill for Japanese Ninjustu made a big uproar on the internet.
Unfortunately, despite numerous cases of violation of the right of the “delicate sex” in the Persian Gulf Arabic littoral states, the alliance between these countries and other western countries are unaffected. In spite of criticisms by Human Rights defenders against Saudi kings, it is sometimes heard that formal institutions show no political or military reaction to this issue. It seems that Washington is more interested in Bashar Assad’s opposition to armed militia than in Saudi clergies and scholars’ clash with their compatriot women who have been degraded to an animal level. Despite the obvious negligence of the facts of life in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait, western governments are greatly concerned about the “violation” of Iranian women’s rights. This is nothing but the manifestation of resorting to double standards and the significant gap between the intentions declared by the U.S. foreign policy and its allies, and their actual goals. This is an obvious example of deception and hypocrisy of the American “Big Brother”. It is easy to imagine what the result would be if the West strived, even slightly, to defend the actual women’s rights and other vulnerable strata of the society, and did not only focus on advancing its geopolitical interests. Sadly, silence is seen from institutes that have selected the defense of human rights as their mission and vision, namely the UN Assembly for Human Rights, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Expert Committee for the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Even reports by the famous organization of “Amnesty International” on “women’s issues” in the Arabic Peninsula are very rare, and they are mainly produced by some creative employees in this organization. Meanwhile, the mentioned organizations loudly claim that the rights of all the strata of the society in Iran, Syria, and even Russia are being violated. Could this policy be described as anything except a “political order”? It is well understood that if the U.S. and the whole world decisively say “no” to coercion on women’s rights, Neither Malik Abdullah, the faithful slave of Washington, and Hamad Al Khalifa, the king of Bahrain and the head of the “Middle-Eastern state of the U.S.”, nor the other “little kings” in the Middle East will be able to keep encouraging these nasty affairs. However, the U.S. and its follower, Europe, have remained silent and, by so doing, indirectly cause all the brutality against women’s rights from these governments.
By: Anton Yevstratov

Produced for the “Fervent Saudi Arabia” project