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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Women's rights, Saudi style

From the Arab News:
Police are searching for a 28-year-old woman who ran away from a Social Affairs-run women’s shelter in Jeddah on Friday.

Col. Misfar Al-Juaid, spokesman for Jeddah police, said the woman ran away while the police were preparing to take her to jail in line with a court order. He further urged the young woman to surrender and warned the public against giving her shelter.

She must have done something heinous to have an all-point bulletin issued by an entire Kingdom. What was her crime?

The court had ordered the police to take the woman to jail while it examined a case filed against her by her father. The woman fled her parents’ home after accusing them of abusing her and sought refuge at the shelter.

The woman had earlier complained against her father at a summary court. The father had then filed a counter-case against her, accusing her of disobeying her parents, a culpable offense under Saudi law. The court refused to entertain the woman’s petition and instead began examining the father’s complaint.

Before issuing a final verdict, the court ordered police to take the woman to jail. When police arrived to take her, the woman said she needed to use the toilet and on entering the ladies’ toilet she fled.

The woman accused her father of abusing her. The father responded to the court that she had done something much worse - she had disobeyed him. So the Saudi justice system, naturally, decided to drop the charges for the abuse crime and start a nationwide hunt for the 28 year old woman who disobeyed her father.

The Saudis aren't monsters, though. They have a solution:

Urging the young woman to return to her senses and surrender to the authorities, Dr. Ali Al-Hanaki, director of the Ministry of Social Affairs Ministry in Jeddah, said, “The solution now lies in her own hands. Each additional day she refuses to obey the authorities will only worsen her problem.”

He added that the ministry had pledged to resolve her problem without sending her to jail. “We have informed the court of our plans, which include arranging for her to marry and reconciling her with her family,” said Al-Hanaki.

See? They'll find her a husband! No doubt he will be a prize catch for her, arranged by the government itself.

Almost as much of a prize as her father evidently is:

He also requested her father to stop sending threatening messages to the authorities.