Saudi Gazette reports that women are taking up maintenance jobs at Princess Noura University in Riyadh.
The situation is complicated by social mores that do not permit men to work in female institutions while the women are present. But the men who do the jobs are, for the most part, foreign workers as Saudi men look upon manual labor with great disdain. The women, on the other hand, see jobs that need to be done and salaries that are worth having.
Saudi women proud of blue-collar jobs
Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — A number of Saudi women have taken maintenance jobs at Princess Noura University in Riyadh. They are working as electricians, plumbers and others and they are happy about what they are doing, Makkah daily reported on Sunday.
“We are working with love, passion and pride,” one of them told the newspaper.
Male workers are not allowed on the university campus during the day time and this gave Saudi women an opportunity to do these jobs.
“The maintenance work cannot wait for the men to come in the evening so we will be doing their work during the day hours,” said a Saudi female electrician.
She said they have become used to the strange look from some students and are taking this positively. “We are working in a good environment with good salaries and are providing a service to our society,” she said.
Also in Saudi Gazette:
Another small step for woman…
The first all-female law firm has opened in Jeddah. What’s more, it includes the first female attorney to have presented a case before a Saud court.
First female law firm opened in Jeddah
Jeddah: FOUZIA KHAN
In what is being seen as a major boost for Saudi women seeking legal advice and help, Bayan Mahmoud Al-Zahran, the first Saudi woman lawyer who was issued license to practice law in the Kingdom, launched the first female law firm for the benefit of Saudi women on Wednesday.
Bayan Al-Zahran became the first Saudi woman lawyer when she appeared at the General Court in Jeddah for the first time in November last year to defend a client. She had been working for years as a legal consultant and had represented dozens of people in criminal and civil cases besides family disputes.
Al-Zahran told Arab News that the objective of her law firm is to fight for the rights of Saudi women and bring their problems before the court, since male lawyers in many cases couldn’t understand the problems and situations of a female plaintiff.
Saudi Gazette front-pages a piece on a petition to the Shoura Council to end male guardianship in Saudi Arabia. A group of women have asked the Council to reevaluate the way in which Saudi women are constrained by having to seek male approval and authorization for actions that in any other country would be at the women’s own behest.
Women demand end to male guardianship
Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — The system of male guardianship should end and the citizenship code amended so that Saudi women can grant citizenship to non-Saudi husbands and children, said a recent petition sent by 25 women activists to the Shoura Council on International Women’s Day (Mar. 8), Al-Hayat daily reported on Saturday.
In their letter, the activists, some of whom are university professors, called on the Council to take necessary measures to protect women’s rights and stop domestic violence against them.
Azizah Al-Yousif, one of the activists who signed the petition, said: “This petition renews our demands as women. We want our issues to be put on the top of the Council’s priority list.”
Thuraya Obaid and Lubna Al-Ansari, both Shoura Council members, promised to tackle most of the points raised in the petition, said Al-Yousif.
Arab News also covers the petition:
Writing in the Arabic daily Al-Riyadh, Haya Al-Manee states it bluntly: Saudi women are treated as children. Under constant watch by their male relatives, they are hampered every way they turn. They’re not trusted with keys to the car. They can’t leave the country without some male’s approving the travel. They can’t file legal documents without a male’s identification of her.
This flies in the face of the way Saudis do respect the maturity of female doctors or businesswomen, but even they fall into the category of ‘the supervised’ when they leave their workplaces.
The most galling part of this, Al-Manee says, is that when something goes wrong, the woman will be punished, to the full extent of the law. Her guardian, however, skates.
Saudi woman is a minor!
Haya Al-Manee | Al-Riyadh
As far as a Saudi woman is concerned, she is considered a minor. Under the Kingdom’s law, a man is considered a minor only until the age of 18. But in a woman’s case, she always treated as a minor in the legal point of view, irrespective of her age. A minor boy can become the guardian of a woman when he passes the age of 18!
Is there any logic in treating women as minors throughout their entire lives? Is this acceptable in the Islamic Shariah? It is never acceptable as Allah honored women by ensuring their rights and commanded them to perform their obligations. But in our society, a woman is treated a minor in every aspect, when she wants to get things done in the Civil Status Department or when she approaches the Passport Department to have a passport-related service. I don’t know when a Saudi woman would pass the phase of being a minor.
It is shameful to treat women as minors in most of our rules and regulations, and this is a clear violation of the principles of the Islamic Shariah. Perhaps, this could have been acceptable in the past, but now there is no logic in this. At present, there is a Saudi woman who runs a university in the Kingdom. There is a woman who plays a leading role in framing policies of higher education in her capacity as deputy minister. There are 30 women members in the Shoura Council and they have a great role in enacting laws and proposing amendments in the laws. Even then, our laws treat a woman as a minor!
Saudi Gazette reports that many Saudi men — husbands, fathers, brothers — have a belief that they are owed all or a portion of salaries earned by women in their families. This belief is not supported by Saudi or religious law.
It’s rational to think that a woman would choose to be supportive of families, but it is not reasonable to demand it, as the article explains.
Men lay claim on wives’ salaries as ‘legal guardians’
Saudi Gazette report
MAKKAH — At the end of every month, many wives have become accustomed to a monthly quarrel with their husbands, who claim their rights to their wives’ salaries.
Soad Salman, a teacher, experiences tension at the end of every month, as she fears the regular dispute between her husband and her family on each party’s right to her salary.
She has to exert strenuous efforts to calm both sides down, and resolve the issue with minimal losses.
Soad is one of many employed wives whose salaries become a dilemma between their husbands and families.
Such dilemmas sometimes end in a court case which last for long periods, and many times end in divorce.
Husbands justify their demands as they have the right to prevent their wives from going to work under the pretext of their authority and guardianship over their wives, while wives believe that they have sole rights to their salaries.
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV carries a report from Reuters News Agency about how the Saudi government monitors the Internet and social media.
The report notes that the primary target of the monitoring and rapid response to problematic commentary is aimed primarily at religious extremism. But, as the law is written, the goal is to avoid anything that might disrupt Saudi governance and society. As a result, those who call for liberal reforms can be caught as easily as those who call for extremist or terroristic violence against the state.
Officials say that they look for ‘incitement’ rather than just ‘opinion’, but where the line is drawn is seen to be too subjective. The article notes that liberal reformers are pulling back from social media in light of new laws that severely punish those promoting extremism. The target might be radicals calling for Saudis to take part in jihad in Syria, but those who call for reforms like allowing women to drive in the Kingdom fear that too-eager monitors could overly complicate their lives.
It would hep if the Saudi government had a clearer statement of purpose, spelling out exactly what is permitted and what is not. “Disruption” or “discord” (fitna) is insufficient grounds. People can become upset over all sorts of things, but ‘upsetting people’ should not be sufficient grounds for criminalizing speech.
Reuters, Riyadh –Syria’s civil war has led to a new, greater threat of Islamist radicalism in Saudi Arabia that requires a more aggressive “war of ideology” on the internet, says the man responsible for online monitoring in the kingdom.
Remarks by the head of the Saudi Ideological Security Directorate (ISD) suggest that the unit, known for keeping tabs on liberal activists and women drivers as well as Islamist extremists, is turning its focus increasingly towards those using the Internet to recruit fighters for jihad abroad.
This month King Abdullah decreed that any Saudi who goes overseas to fight faces jail terms of 3-20 years. Authorities believe 1,000-2,000 of the kingdom’s citizens have gone to Syria to join the war there.
The decree also imposes punishment on Saudis who join, glorify or give moral or material support to groups described as terrorist or extremist, a list that has not yet been published.
From an office near a firing range in a police academy in Riyadh, the ISD keeps tabs on “anything that might influence the stability of Saudi Arabia,” said its director, Abdulrahman al-Hadlaq. That broad mandate includes peaceful political or human rights activists, he said. Several have been jailed over the past year on charges that included comments made online.
Saudi Gazette breaks ground by naming the first female editor of a major newspaper — in English or Arabic. Somayya Jabarti, who was Deputy Editor, has thirteen years’ experience in journalism. She replaces Khaled Al-Maeena, who took the helm in 2011 after many years as Editor-in-Chief of competitor Arab News. He will become Editor-at-Large for Saudi Gazette.
Saudi Gazette appoints kingdom’s first female newspaper editor
Ben Flanagan | Al Arabiya News, Dubai
The Saudi Gazette newspaper has appointed the country’s first female editor-in-chief, in what has been called a “historic” move in the conservative kingdom.
Somayya Jabarti takes the reins of the English-language newspaper from Khaled Almaeena, who becomes editor-at-large.
Jabarti, previously deputy editor, becomes the first female editor of a national newspaper in Saudi Arabia, although other women have headed magazines in the kingdom.
Al-Maeena offers his own valedictory and welcome:
From Gulf News, a report that a noted Saudi cleric, Qays Al Mubarak, is publicly unhappy that women in Saudi Arabia are choosing to see male doctors. This, Al Mubarak says, is most improper as it violates (his) rules that men and women must remain segregated — unless accompanied by a male guardian — except in case of emergency.
I’m sure that deep down inside, and left unstated, the Saudis had hoped that they could create a sufficient body of female doctors so that the problem of gender mixing would be avoided. Saudi women have been enrolled in medical schools since nearly their creation. But doctors, unlike widgets, aren’t just run off in a factory production line. Not only must there be interest in becoming a doctor, there must also be success in getting through medical school. Many women have accomplished this, of course, but not necessarily in those medical specializations that would make the good cleric’s days brighter. Nor does illness or disease wait until doctors of the ‘proper’ sex become available. As for the point in making at least two people spend their time, money, and effort in dealing with the illness of one of them? That’s neither efficient nor economic.
Riyadh (AFP): A top Saudi cleric has scolded women who visit male doctors without being accompanied by a male guardian, claiming that is prohibited by Islam, Al Hayat daily reported on Thursday.
His remarks follow the death of a university student last week after paramedics were denied access to her campus because they were not accompanied by a male guardian, or close relative, a must according to the strict segregation rules in the Muslim kingdom.
“Women are becoming negligent in consulting doctors without a mahram (male guardian), and this is prohibited,” Al Hayat quoted Shaikh Qays Al Mubarak, a member of the Council of Senior Ulema (Muslim scholars), as saying.
A medical check-up could include “a woman showing parts of her body to a doctor. This is not permissible … unless urgent,” he said.
Women “must seek help from a male doctor only when a female medic is not available. When this happens, they must not be alone and the doctor must only look at the pain” part of the body, he said.
The issue of guardianship in Saudi Arabia, where women are dependent upon male members of their families to assist them in many of their ordinary activities, is being chipped away. Arab News reports that women will now be able to address the country’s courts without the necessity of having a male identify them first. As the piece notes, the prior system had been abused where men simply refused to identify the women, preventing them from presenting evidence or representing their own views. Too, it has been reported, men would sometimes falsely identify a woman as being someone she was not.
Women no longer need identifiers at Saudi courts
JEDDAH: RIMA AL-MUKHTAR
The Supreme Judicial Council has decided that Saudi women no longer have to have males identify them at court hearings, and would only require their identity cards.
The council issued a circular to all the courts on Monday to announce its decision.
The move has been welcomed by Saudis.
“This has brought an end to the dilemma that both women and judges used to face when trying to identify women who appear in court. Sometimes the identifier would be the plaintiff or the defendant in the same case,” said Ali Al-Alyani, a columnist and editor in chief of Ya Hala talk show.
“The previous practice gave men the upper hand in cases where they would either refuse to identify the woman or give false information in some cases,” he said.
It’s not as easy for Saudi women to divorce their husbands as the other way around. But Saudi women are willing to do it when necessary, even if it means returning dowries and paying ‘additional expenses’ their husbands paid out during the marriages.
Arab News reports that over the past 35 days, 128 women have requested divorces across the Kingdom, with the largest numbers reported from Jeddah and Riyadh. The reasons for the divorce requests are several, with forced marriages, marriages with large age differences, domestic abuse, and plain old ‘incompatibility’ among them.
‘Khula’ cases on the rise in Kingdom
JEDDAH: RIMA AL-MUKHTAR
Saudi courts have received 128 case requests for “khula” (female request for divorce) in the last 35 days, according to statistics issued by the Justice Ministry on Thursday.
Khula in Shariah is where a woman secures her divorce through offering financial compensation to the husband, which begins with returning her dowry, but often includes what the husband sees as additional expenses incurred during the marriage.
The largest number of such cases were reported in Riyadh and Jeddah, which account for around 56 percent of cases.
Jeddah courts have received 23 cases and Riyadh courts 21.
In Gurayat, 11 cases were reported, while in Al-Ahsa, seven cases were filed.
Ghazi Al-Shammary, a family consultant, said that khula reflects the social justice established by Islam, as it allows women to divorce their husbands like men divorce their wives.
“One of the main reasons why wives ask for divorce is because they are mistreated and neglected by their husbands,” he said.
“Such cases are on the rise because of forced marriages, wide age gaps between the spouses or incompatibility,” he said.
Saudi Gazette translates another piece from the Arabic press, this time from Al-Sharq from Dammam, in the Eastern Province.
The piece asks why Saudi youth — representing close to 75% of the population — are not represented in the Shoura Council. Last year, the King appointed women (representing 50% of the population) to the Council.
I think it a fair question. Just as women tend to dislike mansplaining — men attempting to explain what women think — it’s not clear at all that older people are qualified to interpret what the youth of a country want. The elders can certainly explain what they think youth wants or what it should want, but there’re few guarantees that that assessment is accurate.
Rather than going full-bore and demanding seats on the Council, the writer suggests some alternatives. Among these is the formation of a separate council of youths that would be subordinate to, but linked with the Shoura Council, a program now in place in Sharjah in the UAE.
Where is the voice of youth in the Shoura Council?
Fahd Al-Farhan | Al-Sharq
At a time when the younger generation is being granted increased representation in consultative and decision-making bodies in most advanced countries, Saudi Arabia is charting a different course. Saudi students who are pursuing higher studies under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program abroad are seeing first hand the major role that young people have been playing in these countries, especially in Europe.
Those who are working to develop the skills of young Saudis have emphasized that the younger generation will be given representation in the Shoura Council. Even though the National Center for Youth Studies (NCYS) was established in 2004 with a mission of empowering young people to take leadership roles, its activities were limited and it is not in a position to play an effective role in youth affairs. How many students of King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh know about the Center even though its headquarters is located at the university?
Sunny Saudi Arabia is facing problems with Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is one of the vitamins that the human body can produce for itself; it only needs exposure to sunlight. Unlike certain Western movements that seek to avoid exposure to the sun — in order to avoid skin cancers or just to keep pale skin — Saudi Arabia’s deficiencies are due to avoiding the Sun for some other reasons.
One, of course, is that the sunlight in Saudi Arabia is awfully intense (though not as intense as in countries at high altitude). People don’t like to bake, if they can avoid it. Another, not stated in this Arab News article, is that Saudis tend to cover up for reasons of modesty — both male and female — and end up blocking the sun. One reason provided in the article, though, is bogus: shades or tinting on automobile windows is inconsequential as glass is an effective barrier in itself. Sedentary lifestyles may also bear some blame, but one has to admit that there’re so few outdoor, daytime activities that meet with social approval that one might as well stay indoors.
Vitamin D deficiency plagues Saudis
RIYADH: ARAB NEWS
Despite the Kingdom being among the top countries in the world in terms of exposure to sunlight, Saudis ironically suffer from a severe lack of vitamin D, of which the sun is a natural source.
This was revealed by Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Daggrey, supervisor of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah Center for Research in Biomarkers for Osteoporosis. The average sunlight in the Kingdom is an estimated 2,200 kWh per square meter, due to its location on the earth’s sunbelt.
Al-Daggrey said the importance of vitamin D lies in its ability to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are nutrients that play a prominent role in protecting human bones and the strength of muscles, as well help fight diseases such as colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, Type I diabetes, and the common flu.
Many Saudis suffer from severe vitamin D deficiency due to lack of exposure to the sun on a daily basis. Prolonged stay indoors or in places away from sunlight, the use of shades on vehicle windshields and consuming junk food low in nutrients all contribute to this deficiency.