As I was perusing the Al Jazeera English website researching for my PowerPoint presentation, I came across this picture; an Arab women in a hjiab with a black eye. This image really struct me and because it signifies that women “hide behind a veil” when it comes to domestic violence. It also provides a type pf universal language and meaning. The new campaign ad lunched by Saudi Arabia is to address a serious violent act not recognized as a crime under Saudi law. Of course women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are not the same as the United States or even the UAE for that matter. The oppression of women in Saudi Arabia is not a new phenomenon, so why are contributing efforts to domestic violence now?
The “No More Abuse” campaign is sponsored by the King Khalid Foundation, a non-profit organization whose main goal is to advance women’s social rights in Saudi Arabia. The campaign provides resources for citizens to report domestic abuse and it’s outreaching goal to obtain legal protection in the country. Although moving in the right direction, Saudi Arabia has a great deal of catching up to do in terms of establishing equality of gender.
The Humans Right’s Watch notes, “The Saudi guardianship system continues to treat women as minors. Under this discriminatory system, girls and women of all ages are forbidden from traveling, studying, or working without permission from their male guardians.”Women in Saudi Arabia are required to have a “male guardian.” This is not an official legal requirement but is a social norm. The guardian is seen as the father type that may have full range of controlling every aspect of her life, including basic decisions such as choosing a path to higher education. Women are so controlled by there male guardians that they are not even allowed to drive a car. Recently however, women are now able to ride a bicycles…but they can’t do it unaccompanied, they must be completely covered and can’t use a bicycle for transportation purposes. Not even for transportation services!!?? I’m sorry what are bikes used for, an accessory in Saudi Arabia?
Anyways, the World Economic Forum ranks Saudi Arabia extremely low, 131 out of 135 countries in terms of the Global Gender Gap. So this campaign is headed into the right direction, but Saudi Arabia has a lot of catching-up to countries whose equality rights apply to both genders. Since this image is only a few days old, Twitter and other social mediums have been blowing up across the world. This picture reminds me of the “Afghan Girl” on the National Geographic Magazine in 1985:
Although I don’t believe the Saudi Women photo will not gain as much popularity, it is still a representation and expression of a certain situation. The campaign on domestic violence is moving in the right direction in causing discussion and discourse. The provocative image will hopefully gain significant support for the right’s of Saudi women.
Al Jazeera Discussion: