Sunday, November 25, 2012

Electronic monitoring of women in Saudi Arabia?

by Salman Hameed

I actually saw this news item couple of days ago and thought that somebody made this up. But no, it seems that there really are no limits of sexism in Saudi Arabia. So in the 21st century, women still cannot drive in the Kingdom (the only country in the world!). However, it seems that the Interior Ministry is monitoring the movements of women if they leave the country - and dutifully informing their respective husbands via text message about any travels outside the Kingdom. This is all related to men being considered the "guardians" of women. Since women are considered dependents, they have to seek permission to get a job, travel out of the country, or even to go to school. So in the fine minds of Saudi government officials, when they are monitoring women's movements, they are simply "protecting" the dependents. Here is an excerpt from the story (and please do let me know if it turns out to be false - as this is just too insane):

Al-Sharif was one of the first prominent Saudis to start tweeting about the electronic monitoring issue -- describing the shock experienced by a couple she knew after the husband received a text message alerting him his wife had left Saudi Arabia, even though they were traveling out of the country together. 
What surprised and disturbed them most, Al-Sharif told CNN, was the fact that the husband had not registered with the Interior Ministry to begin receiving such notifications.
"It shows how women are still being treated as minors," added Al-Sharif. She went on to explain how, even though a notification system has actually been in place since 2010, before last week, a male guardian would have had to specifically request the service from the country's Interior Ministry before receiving such messages. 
In recent years, much has been made of the fact that Saudi Arabia is the sole remaining country in which women still have not been given the right to drive. But restrictions experienced by Saudi females extend to far more than just getting behind the wheel. In the deeply conservative kingdom, a woman is not allowed to go to school, get a job, or even travel outside the country without first obtaining the permission of her male "guardian," or mahram.
Read the full depressing story here.

But don't worry. Everything is okay - as Paris Hilton now has her 5th store in Saudi Arabia, with the latest one in Mecca Mall. It is pretty straight forward. On the way to Hajj, the male guardian can now give permission to his wife to own a part of Paris Hilton's world of handbags. Isn't this enough freedom? What more do these women want?


Akbar said...

As all the problems in the world are now fixed, this is a seriously shocking revelation. Where is this perfect world heading to? I am worried.

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