Real War on Women -Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women


By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, November 22, 2012 10:54 EST, Thde raw story
RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.
Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.
Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.
“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.
The move by the Saudi authorities was swiftly condemned on social network Twitter — a rare bubble of freedom for millions in the kingdom — with critics mocking the decision.
“Hello Taliban, herewith some tips from the Saudi e-government!” read one post.
“Why don’t you cuff your women with tracking ankle bracelets too?” wrote Israa.
“Why don’t we just install a microchip into our women to track them around?” joked another.
“If I need an SMS to let me know my wife is leaving Saudi Arabia, then I’m either married to the wrong woman or need a psychiatrist,” tweeted Hisham.

“This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned,” said Bishr, the columnist.
“It would have been better for the government to busy itself with finding a solution for women subjected to domestic violence” than track their movements into and out of the country.
Saudi Arabia applies a strict interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, and is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.
In June 2011, female activists launched a campaign to defy the ban, with many arrested for doing so and forced to sign a pledge they will never drive again.
No law specifically forbids women in Saudi Arabia from driving, but the interior minister formally banned them after 47 women were arrested and punished after demonstrating in cars in November 1990.
Last year, King Abdullah — a cautious reformer — granted women the right to vote and run in the 2015 municipal elections, a historic first for the country.
In January, the 89-year-old monarch appointed Sheikh Abdullatif Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, a moderate, to head the notorious religious police commission, which enforces the kingdom’s severe version of sharia law.
Following his appointment, Sheikh banned members of the commission from harassing Saudi women over their behaviour and attire, raising hopes a more lenient force will ease draconian social constraints in the country.
But the kingdom’s “religious establishment” is still to blame for the discrimination of women in Saudi Arabia, says liberal activist Suad Shemmari.
“Saudi women are treated as minors throughout their lives even if they hold high positions,” said Shemmari, who believes “there can never be reform in the kingdom without changing the status of women and treating them” as equals to men.
But that seems a very long way off.
The kingdom enforces strict rules governing mixing between the sexes, while women are forced to wear a veil and a black cloak, or abaya, that covers them from head to toe except for their hands and faces.
The many restrictions on women have led to high rates of female unemployment, officially estimated at around 30 percent.
In October, local media published a justice ministry directive allowing all women lawyers who have a law degree and who have spent at least three years working in a lawyer’s office to plead cases in court.
But the ruling, which was to take effect this month, has not been implemented.

 

Free and fair: Saudi Arabia to build a women-only city


Saudi Arabia is planning to build a new city exclusively for women as it bids to combine strict Sharia law and career minded females, pursuing work.

It is thought the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) has been asked to bring the country up to date with the rest of the modern world with the controversial city, which is now being designed with construction to begin next year.

It is hoped it will allow women’s desire to work without defying the country’s Islamic laws.

Mono-city: A women only city is set to be built in Saudi Arabia to allow women to pursue a careerMono-city: A women only city is set to be built in Saudi Arabia to allow women to pursue a career

The municipality in the Eastern city of Hafuf is expected to attract 500 million riyals (£84m) in investments and it will create around 5,000 jobs in the textiles, pharmaceuticals and food processing industries.

There will be women-run firms and production lines for women.

Although Saudi Sharia law does not prohibit women to work figures show that only 15 per cent of women are represented in the workforce.

SHARIA LAW: HOW IT WORKS IN SOME ISLAMIC STATES

Sharia Law is the moral code and religious law of Islam dealing with crime, politics, and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting.

In general Sharia doesn’t guarantee equal rights for women and men.

For many it does but for rights including marital and inheritance laws, it doesn’t.

Married women have the right to seek employment although it is often thought in patriarchal societies that the woman’s role as a wife and mother should have first priority.

Islam allows both single and married women to own property and the right to inherit from other family members but a woman’s inheritance is different from a man’s, for instance, a daughter’s inheritance is usually half that of her brother’s.

Islamic jurists have traditionally held that Muslim women may enter into marriage with only Muslim men, while the Quran allows a Muslim man to marry a chaste woman from the People of the Book, a term that includes Jews and Christians.

In 2003, a Malaysian court ruled that, under sharia law, a man may divorce his wife via text messaging as long as the message was clear and unequivocal.

The plan coincides with the governments ambitions to get women to play a more active part in the development of the country. Among the stated objectives are to create jobs, particularly for younger women.

‘I’m sure that women can demonstrate their efficiency in many aspects and clarify the industries that best suits their interests, their nature and their ability’, Modon’s deputy director-general, Saleh Al-Rasheed, told Saudi daily newspaper al-Eqtisadiah.

Saudi’s existing industrial cities already have factories owned by women, as well as companies that employ a small portion of the female population and Saleh Al Rasheed added: ‘We are now working on a second industrial city for women.

‘We have plans to establish a number of women-only industries in various parts of the kingdom’.

As part of a mass overhaul of its workforce and its bid to get women into work the state is also attempting to replace foreign salespeople with Saudi women.

This summer, women started replacing staff in cosmetics and perfume shops, only half a year after they replaced male sales staff in lingerie stores.

But despite some progress, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are still defined by Islam and lack basic freedoms found in many Western cultures.

Last September, King Abdullah announced that women will be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections but Saudi Arabia is still the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving and it took huge efforts from the International Olympic Committee to persuade them to enter women in the Games for the first time ever.

Wojdan Shaherkani’s Olympics lasted just over a minute, but the fact she made it to her judo bout with Puerto Rico’s Melissa Mojica meant it was a revolutionary moment for the women of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi judoka Wojdan Shaherkani, who was embroiled in a political and religious row in her home country before being allowed to compete
The 100m sprinter Tahmina Kohstani of Afghanistan runs in a hijab and long clothing to conform with Islamic modesty laws

Making history: Saudi Arabia’s Wojdan Shaherkani and Afghanistan’s Tahmina Kohistani were the first women to represent their countries in the Olympics

The country’s ultra-conservative clergy tried to destroy her ambitions to be Saudi’s first female Olympian, before an argument about the type of headscarf she should wear jeopardised her place at the eleventh hour.

The Games in London were also a first for Afghanistan, also bound by strict law, when Tahmina Kohistani ran in the 100m, despite months of harassment from men who believed she should not be allowed to compete.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2187072/Saudi-Arabia-Women-city-planned-allow-more-females-pursue-career.html#ixzz23Pf2p0Xq

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