Monday, January 21, 2008

Saudi questioned over rights issues

Saudi officials have been questioned by the UN on the country's record on gender-equality.

The committee cited the numerous infringements on gender-equality that occur in Saudi Arabia, including the fact men have the right to twice the inheritance women are allowed, and that women are obliged to have a "tutor" accompany them for many of life's daily tasks.
Without the presence of this tutor [guardian], a woman cannot study, access health services, marry, travel abroad, have a business or even access an ambulance in an emergency," said one of the experts, according to minutes from the meeting.

"What is the legal basis in Saudi society that justifies this guardian system?" asked the same expert. "Is it necessary to maintain this system in the 21st century?"

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, has been ratified by 185 states which must regularly report on how they are implementing its provisions.

Members of the committee asked the Saudi delegation why Saudi women do not have the right to drive.

In addition, they raised the case that made headlines around the world of a woman - since exonerated by King Abdullah - who had been convicted to six months in prison and 200 lashings after being gang-raped.

The Riyadh delegation reminded the committee that the country signed the convention with amendments made for Islamic law.

The kingdom is governed by Wahabism, a strict interpretation of Islam that - in the name of Sharia law - imposes complete separation of the sexes. As such, it is illegal for a woman to be in the company of a man who is not in her immediate family.

The Saudi delegation highlighted in a report they submitted to the committee that "Saudi society is still largely a tribal society and changes in mentality allowing new ideas to be accepted take time".

In its report, Riyadh also wrote that "Islam, as a realistic religion, admits that total equality between man and woman is contrary to reality, as various scientific studies on their psychological differences have shown".

The report justifies the disparity between inheritance based on the claim that women have less expenses than men.

While the delegation recognised that young women are still not allowed to study certain subjects, such as geology, it indicated that women can in fact travel abroad alone for studies - thereby representing "a radical change" from the past.

On the subject of polygamy, the Saudi representatives replied that in the kingdom, men are permitted by law to have up to four wives.

Sometimes the sexual appetite of a man is not satisfied by his wife and he must take another wife to satisfy this, otherwise he would be obliged to satisfy it an illegal manner, outside of marriage, explained the delegation.

Leading up to February 1, the committee experts will also examine country reports from Bolivia, Burundi, France, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Morocco, and Sweden.

1 comment:

Asen Villar said...

Hi! Desert 69,

I always checked your blogspot site, to check some news here in Riyadh. I also work here in Faisaliyah Industrial Area near Exit 17, in leading company for Automatic Doors industry.

Well, I just ask something to you, I don't know if you can give me a comment regarding my concerns. I don't have any connection here in Saudi government agencies to ask my question.

My question is regarding foreign workers here in KSA; Is there any new rule for all foreign workers here in Saudi Arabia, for Medical or/ Medication Assistance for all foreign worker that wish to go in Medical Clinic or Hospital for consultation for medical ilness, there's a certain charge for medication for 20%-25%, that should to pay in cash of the worker to Clinic or Hospital?

Our company has issued a new Clinic Card for all their employees in Riyadh Clinic, when we go now in the clinic they inform us to pay a SAR. 10, for consulation and medicines charge us the 20% of the total cost.

Our working contract indicated there free Hospitalization & Medical Assistant, and our company inform us that's new rule of all hospital & clinic.

Any insight for this matter?

Thanks & regards,
Asen Villar