Guardian’s attempt to stop woman from marrying genuine suitor a crime …soon.

A news article says that one in every 16 women above 32 in Saudi Arabia is  forced to stay unmarried.

“There are a variety of reasons behind this phenomenon including unemployment, a housing shortage and obsolete social traditions.

Al-Fouzan urged men to find wives closer to their age. “This would help reduce the number of unmarried women,” he said. [Link, “Four Million single women in Saudi Arabia by 2015“]

A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.

Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi blogger who often writes about women’s issues, said…

“… they want to convince the men to marry older women… The men want virgins, not older women or divorcees. The problem is that we have a lot of women in their late 20s or 30s who are not married and which men are not interested in, while the young ladies don’t want to be the second wife as their first marriage.”

Saudi men see polygamy as their right and prefer to marry young girls. Dowry – given by the husband to the bride’s father, makes it easier for richer, often older men to marry young women. Girls are often forced into such marriages.

Some academics are suggesting that suicide, especially among the young, is increasing. “…80 percent of these cases involved girls or young women. Causes included domestic abuse, favoritism expressed by parents toward male siblings, forced marriage and preventing marriage…”

The HRC is also seeking to include forced marriage as a human trafficking crime. A common motive for forced marriage is a father’s attempt to strengthen bonds between families or friends, often in exchange for a dowry that the father steals from his daughter.

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In some cases women, especially employed women, are prevented from getting married by their fathers, who deny them permission, out of concern of losing the household income. From the comments that follow this article it seems girls supporting their families is appreciated although Saudi girls are not allowed to drive and they can’t buy a car with their hard earned money, without a male guardian’s permission.
Once married whatever they earn, they might have to hand over to their husband who might otherwise ‘boot’ them out of their home. [link]
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“…the rising number of Saudi men marrying non-Saudi women is also contributing to the rise of single Saudi women.” Under current Saudi rules, Saudi women are not allowed to marry foreign men unless under exceptional circumstances. (This too is likely to change).

“…more and more young Saudi women are well educated, financially independent and exposed to different ways of thinking about themselves, relationships and their roles in society… this leads many young Saudi women to refuse the advances of men seeking to take a second, third or fourth wife.

Some women seek out foreign men, in the hopes that they will not end up in a polygamous marriage.

*

All Saudi women are not unaware of injustice in the situation, they do object, question, and even write about it. Are young men finding ways to rebel too?

Last month, the HRC announced its effort to include the crime of adhl in the Kingdom’s official definition of human trafficking, which would codify a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to SR1 million to any guardian found guilty of preventing a woman’s right to marry a man otherwise deemed acceptable by Shariah.

Along with these changes, would it not be simpler if everybody had control over their own income? And some day, also over their own lives?

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Three Saudi youths were arrested for attempting to sexually assault a teenager…

Teenager escapes rape attempt (in Taif,  Saudi Arabia)

Did you find this news difficult to believe? I did.

Is the victim going to be stoned for attracting the molesters attention?

No.

“The victim told police, after  escaping from the youths, that while walking down the road a car with three men pulled up and invited the victim to join them. When the victim refused to get in, two of the men tried to drag the victim  into the vehicle, but the victim resisted and managed to run away. They had also taken the victim’s mobile phone.

With the help of a Bangladeshi worker, the victim called police and described the car the attackers were driving.

A police patrol detained a car matching the victim’s description when it passed through a checkpoint later in the night.

After being interrogated, the youths admitted to trying to sexually assault the victim. They also confessed that they had sold the victim’s mobile phone for SR300 in a nearby market.

They took the police to the shop where they sold the phone and officers interrogated the shopkeeper.” (News from here with minor changes, to make a point…)

Can you guess why this victim is not going to be blamed for this (attempted) crime?

No women and troubles allowed in this wedding.

In Saudi Arabia,

TABUK: Wedding cards usually include a note asking invitees not to bring children. However, one Saudi groom decided to take things a step further by putting a note on his wedding card asking guests not to bring women.

The man’s decision has left many people surprised, but the youth is adamant saying women cause all sorts of trouble and problems, and that it costs a lot to cater for women. [Link]

Yes, he is marrying a woman (It’s mentioned).  I am not sure if same sex marriages are allowed in Saudi Arabia.

No there’s nothing about her backing out yet.

Yes, she probably won’t be attending many weddings in the coming years.

Slavery by any other name

Roots’ by Alex Haley is about black slavery in America.  The author traces his roots right back to a village on The Coast of the Gambia, West Africa.  The book “… details slave family life—birth, courtship, marriage, death and the ever-present fear of being sold off and having to leave your kin…” Time

The white Masters and Slave Dealers had learnt very fast that once a slave woman had a child (who they owned), she was easy to control. The children were sold for profit*, but the women had more children, so the easy control continued.

Recently, President Hamid Karzai has made an unthinkable deal…  in return for the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election. (Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch).

Afghanistan has enacted a new legislation empowering men (even further).

It grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers.

So the mothers give birth but have no rights on their children**. Do the children have any say in this?

Who does such a law empower?

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The slaves needed their ‘owners’ permission to go anywhere. Travel documents and Passes were required to step out of their homes so they could not ‘escape’ (they always dreamt of escape).

The initial version of the law included articles that imposed drastic restrictions on Shia women, including a requirement to ask permission to leave the house except on urgent business,

(In Saudi Arabia officials continue to require women to obtain permission from male guardians to conduct their most basic affairs, like traveling or receiving medical care)

* * *

Slaves who failed to comply were sent for flogging (for disobedience, insolence, answering back or bigger crimes). In ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ a young slave girl pleads that even more than the physical pain she hated the looks on the faces of the men who flogged the slave girls.

This is something women in Afghanistan do not have to worry about anymore (though they still have to in some other places), but it seems the rest of the conditions are not much different. Such barbaric laws were supposed to have been relegated to the past with the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, yet Karzai has revived them and given them his official stamp of approval.

“The law gives a husband the right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if she refuses to obey his sexual demands.”

I am very curious to know how any society benefits from a law like this. What kind of men would want these laws?

The subtle users of such laws are a larger number; they just become surer about their ‘rights’. Nimmy’s blogged about the claim that… “because women will be ‘out of service’ during 7-10 or even 15 days during a month and that is a very good reason for men to get another wife so that he needn’t go to a prostitute”

What else do they marry for?

But why do women marry? Women are supposed to need companionship, respect, children, emotional and financial support, romance, sex, protection and a lot more time from their spouses, so I would have thought its women, not men who need multiple spouses.

But knowing these laws I wonder if women are better off unmarried. Two things that seldom make news are any talk of a well drafted nikahnama, and a girl’s right to say no to a marriage.

Like did 12 year old Ameena say yes to marry this man?

A few years ago, an airhostess rescued a 12 year old little girl Ameena, who was crying whilst boarding the plane in Hyderabad in India, accompanied by an elderly Arab sheikh husband. The news was all over the papers, and I remember, when he was asked how he could even dream of marrying a girl young enough to be his granddaughter, he had arrogantly responded with a claim that he could marry her because he could still get her pregnant.

That was all that marriage meant to him. And should mean to her… ? But who cares what marriage means to her.

It seems his idea of marriage was not much different from the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who designed this law ‘in secret’ and is ‘supported by conservative Shia leaders in parliament’, the ‘law directly contravenes rights provided under the Afghan constitution, which bans any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan’.

The law “also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying “blood money” to a girl who was injured when he raped her.”

How do we define prostitution? Forced prostitution.

**…. for she knows that tomorrow any man, however vile and brutal, however godless and merciless, if he only has money to pay for her, may become owner of her daughter, body and soul;

*”And, Emmeline, if we shouldn’t ever see each other again, after tomorrow, – if I’m sold way up on a plantation somewhere, and you somewhere else, – always remember…”

(From Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe)

Note: I had missed this news until I read Sraboney’s post here, and then received this link by email.  Thanks to both : )