Report on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia

// 3 May 2008

Over on the Economist there’s a piece concerning a recent report on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. I shan’t attempt to summarise it here, but it’s summed up well by the following comment:

“As the report points out, half the kingdom’s citizens are treated in effect like children or the mentally ill for the duration of their lives.”

you can read more here…

Comments From You

Yunus Yakoub Islam // Posted 3 May 2008 at 10:01 pm

“As the report points out, half the kingdom’s citizens are treated in effect like children or the mentally ill for the duration of their lives.”

Just for starters, the moderate US Imam Hamza Yusuf – who has travelled widely in the Middle East – has pointed out that attitudes towards women in Saudi vary very significantly on a regional basis within the nation. Also, do you really seriously believe there are no Muslim women in Saudi with a professional level of education? This statement is ludicrious nonsense! Nothing will change if feminists rely on Muslim-bashing right-wing media rather than proper scholarship in analysing the position of women in Muslim nations.

There are also some pretty sound Islamic feminist groups on the Net. This one has received much acclaim from Muslim women and academics alike:

Shea // Posted 4 May 2008 at 8:11 pm

Granted your comments are completely valid, but on a national basis, womens rights in Saudi are massively under enforced. Its not Islam bashing to point this out. The Kingdom of Saud has a terrible human rights record period and for every hamshira with a doctorate there are ten women who will never receive even the most basic education.

In a country with massive oil and mineral wealth this is atrocious.

I would like to see more from Islamic feminists on their perspective as I suspect alot of western feminism is viewed with suspicion by the Islamic world as being corrupted by imperialism (which is a valid point, anyone who has heard Bush the younger’s talk of freeing the “women of cover” has every right to serious doubts). I found on the whole that Islam seems to have a much more enlightened attitude to females esp in regards to property rights although there is of course this:

” the Prophet said, “I looked at Paradise and found poor people forming the majority of its inhabitants and I looked at Hell and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women”


So yes, lets not make feminism the “handmaid to colonialism”, but in tandem with voices like Leila Ahmed and Fatema Mernissi there is much to critique in Islam itself and more particularly in Saudi society.

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