Tuesday, February 12, 2008
In December 2007, the Saudi English-language daily Arab News published an op-ed by Dania Al-Ghalib titled "The Saudi Woman is Always Guilty." In it, the author describes the condition of the Saudi woman, depicting her as born unwanted and held accountable for everything that happens to her in life - even though she is always the chattel of a man and has no control over anything.
The following is the article as it appeared in the Arab News. 
"The Saudi Woman is Born Unwanted"
"The Saudi woman is guilty. She is guilty of being born in a male-dominated society. Her fault is that she grows up in a society that stigmatizes her sex as a sin. She is held accountable because society believes she is underage - even if she is in her 60s -and implements a guardianship system over her as if she were a second-class citizen. It is very common for a Saudi woman - a widow or a divorcee - to have her young son as her guardian, and she needs his written permission to carry out official paperwork. He is in control of her life and her destiny.
"The Saudi woman can be blamed for living in a male-dominated society that opposes many rights for women despite the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) - the best of all humans - consulted a woman and listened to her advice. The Saudi woman is guilty of living in a society that confuses tradition with Islamic obligations, and idolizes what it sees as the latter to the extent that when she wants to discuss or object, she is accused of rebellion. Her fault is that society considers her an item of her guardian's property. He can do anything he desires with her without asking her opinion or even listening to her.
"The Saudi woman is born unwanted. Everybody wants a male child rather than a female one.
"She is Guilty If She Remains Silent and Guilty If She talks"
"This innocent creature is forcibly taught what is prohibited and shameful before even knowing how to speak. She is guilty if she remains silent and guilty if she talks.
"She is guilty if she is divorced and guilty if she cleaves to her husband and children when someone tries unjustifiably to destroy her marriage. Her only refuge is prison, where she has the right to say no. She has lost all her rights and has fought for one that allows her to live only behind bars. Her sin is that she tried to protect her marriage and family. But traditions and customs challenged and destroyed her attempts.
"The Saudi Woman is Guilty for Being Raped"
"The Saudi woman is guilty for being raped, in darkness or in daylight, because her society wants her locked in, producing legal children and never leaving her house unless she is dead and of course accompanied by a guardian. She is guilty when brutal beasts tear her body and soul apart, threatening her with weapons and defamation because society believes she subjected herself to them and she deserves what happens to her.
"She is guilty because society prohibits her from driving and forces her to live at the mercy of a foreign driver. He might rape her one day or make money by allowing others to rape her, and then she will be the one who is blamed for having put herself in such position and went out with a driver without her legal guardian.
"The Saudi Woman is Guilty Because She is Part of her Guardian's Property"
"The Saudi woman is guilty because she is part of her guardian's property even when he is a criminal, serving time in jail and he marries her off to his colleague in prison who is awaiting execution. Society is aware of this and apparently sees no harm in such. In fact, the community blessed this marriage and arranged for them to be legally alone together. And the woman's fault is that she is the daughter of a criminal.
"She is Guilty when Others Confiscate Her Property... by Impersonating Her - And Her Greatest Sin is that Her Identity Stems From Her Guardian"
"The Saudi woman is guilty of being haunted by spinsterhood and not accepting misyar  and all other types of male-invented marriages. She is also guilty if she accepts being abandoned by her husband when he feels tired and bored with her and wants a new wife. She is guilty if she objects to anything and her legal guardian beats her until he breaks her ribs or permanently disfigures her. His right is to beat her and make her obey and listen, even if that means deforming her physical features as a woman and taking away her beauty.
"She is guilty when others confiscate her property or real estate by impersonating her, and her greatest sin is that her identity stems from her guardian. The Saudi woman is always guilty and anyone who thinks of dealing with her humanely is a criminal."
 Arab News, Saudi Arabia, December 25 2007. The text has been very lightly edited for clarity.
 For more on misyar, or pleasure, marriages, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 291, "Pleasure Marriages in Sunni and Shi'ite Islam," August 31, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA29106.