Monday, August 10, 2009

Saudi Arabia—The World's Largest Women's Prison

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In a recent article, Wajeha Al-Huweidar, a journalist and human rights activist, characterized Saudi Arabia as “the world’s largest women’s prison.” It is that and more—a totalitarian society in which all women are slaves from birth to death. In her article she wrote:
Prisoners Can Be Released From Prison - But Saudi Women Can't

"The laws of imprisonment are known all over the world. People who commit a crime or an offense are placed in a prison cell... where they serve their sentence. [When they complete it], or get time off for good behavior, they are released... except in cases [where a person is sentenced] to life imprisonment or death. In Saudi Arabia, there are two additional ways to get out of prison early: by learning the Koran or parts of it by heart... or by getting a pardon from the king on the occasion of a holiday or a coronation - after which the prisoner finds himself free and can enjoy life among his family and loved ones.

"However, none of these options exist for Saudi women - neither for those who live behind bars [i.e. who are actually in prison] nor for those who live outside the prison walls. None are ever released, except with the permission of their male guardian. A Saudi woman who committed a crime may not leave her cell when she has finished serving her sentence unless her guardian arrives to collect her. As a consequence, many Saudi women remain in prison just because their guardians refuse to come and get them. The state pardons them, but their guardians insist on prolonging their punishment.

"At the same time, even 'free' women need the permission of their guardian to leave their home, their city or their country. So in either case, the woman's freedom is [in the hands of] her guardian."

Prison Inmates Are Stripped Of All Authority Over Their Lives - And So Are Saudi Women

"As is customary in prisons throughout the world, inmates are stripped of all authority and sponsorship over their own [lives]. All their movements are monitored and controlled by the jailor. The prison authorities decide their fate and see to their needs, until the day of their release. This is also the usual situation of the Saudi woman. She has no right to make decisions, and may not take a single step without the permission of her jailor, namely her guardian. But in her case the term [of imprisonment] is unlimited.

"The Saudi Mahram Law turns the women into prisoners from the day they are born until the day they die. They cannot leave their cells, namely their homes, or the larger prison, namely the state, without signed permission....
More here.

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