Ms. Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, is on her first trip to the Middle East. She seemed clearly taken aback as the women told her that just because they were not allowed to vote or drive that did not mean they were treated unfairly or imprisoned in their own homes.
"We're not in any way barred from talking to the other sex," said Dr. Nada Jambi, a public health professor. "It's not an absolute wall."
That is a blatant lie. On top of the fact that women must wear a black tent in public, the schools and hospitals in Saudi Arabia are segregated by gender.
Saudi cab drivers (who are, of course, ALL male) will not stop for a lone woman in Saudi Arabia. Why? It is illegal for women to travel alone. They must have a male relative as a companion. I know because I lived in that wretched country for over 10 years. Once my mother had an appointment at a hospital and, for the reasons stated, I had to go with her.
"It's not an absolute wall." Nobody said it was absolute. I mean how else would you marry your first cousin and produce smart little Jambis?
Speaking of a wall:
At the meeting with the Saudi women, television crews were barred and reporters were segregated according to sex.
I thought the sexes weren't barred "in any way."
A woman in the audience then charged that under President Bush the United States had become "a right-wing country" and that criticism by the press was "not allowed."
That's rich coming from a slave of a kingdom where there is no free press, and where foreign magazines are wiped clean of any offending material. For example, sometimes complete pages are ripped out of magazines before they're brought to the Saudi market. Sometimes, markers are used to black out the legs of women (for example, in an advertisement or in the women sports section).
Several women said later that Americans failed to understand that their traditional society was embraced by men and women alike.
Finally, an argument with substance. When an entire society is force fed the idea: freedom for women = prostitution, then large numbers of men and women will oppose freedom for women. Plus, in a society where men can, with the permission of religion and law, beat women who act a little uppity (read liberal), it's tough for women to be open about their dissatisfaction with Islamism. Also, see this:
The execution of the Saudi Arabian princess Misha'al is a prime example of an honor killing in that the execution did not follow any Islamic court proceeding but was ordered directly by her grandfather.
How lovely for Saudi women to embrace this tradition, no?
Getting back to the NYTimes:
"There is more male chauvinism in my profession in Europe and America than in my country," said Dr. Siddiqa Kamal, an obstetrician and gynecologist who runs her own hospital.
"I don't want to drive a car," she said. "I worked hard for my medical degree. Why do I need a driver's license?"
Let me get this straight. Women are not allowed to drive a car in Saudi Arabia. They can, however, drive in Europe and America. Still, there is more male chauvinism in Europe and America. Oookay.
"Women have more than equal rights," added her daughter, Dr. Fouzia Pasha, also an obstetrician and gynecologist, asserting that men have obligations accompanying their rights, and that women can go to court to hold them accountable.
15 Saudi girls were murdered in March of 2002 because the religious police, the Muttawa, refused to let them leave a blazing building without their proper attire. I am sure the relatives of these girls thank Allah everyday for the "more than equal rights."
"I love my abaya," she explained. "It's convenient and it can be very fashionable."
Slavery = Freedom. Abaya = Fashionable.
Photo taken from Faith Freedom International.
Also see an earlier article of mine, Honor in Slavery.
Update :: 09/29/05
As things loosen up for Muslim women around the world, you can expect them to begin to find the courage to say what’s real. But until then, they will sound like these privileged, caged women: shrill and not credible at all.