Friday, August 21, 2009

Wajeha al-Huwaider : A Courageous Advocate for Saudi Women

Wajeha Al-Huwaider is a courageous advocate for Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia.

The Washington Post’s Outlook section this past Sunday featured an illuminating op-ed by Wajeha al-Huwaider, a Saudi woman who has daringly shed light on the quandary of Saudi women over the years.

Read her article, Saudi Women Can Drive. Just Let Them.

As explained in her article, Al-Huwaider’s latest campaign is for the abolition of the paternalistic male guardianship. Under this system, women are not permitted to travel, work, attend college, or even receive life-saving medicine without the permission of a male guardian, usually their husband, father, or brother. This system denies Saudi women their basic human rights. Victims of domestic abuse have little or no recourse and no way of escaping from their attackers, since consent of their male guardian, who is often their abuser, is required to seek legal action. Preposterously, this system is not written law, yet is enforced by Saudi authorities. This makes it exceedingly difficult to fight the system, as the Saudi government continues to deny its existence.

As a promoter of human rights and democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia CDHR staff and supporters held a peaceful demonstration on July 27 in front of the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate support for Saudi women’s call for the removal of the unnatural, unnecessary and contemptuous male guardianship system, which is sanctioned and enforced by Saudi authorities.

In her article al-Huwaider talks not only about the need to abolish male guardianship, but highlights the multitude of impediments Saudi women face every day of their lives, including child marriage, the ban on women driving, being forced to wear an abaya in public, not being allowed to participate in sports, and the four wives system.

CDHR supports Wajeha al-Huwaider and her colleagues in their struggle to obtain their full citizenship and legitimate rights in the autocratically ruled Saudi kingdom.

Here's a link to an earlier article on al-Huwaider, also in The Washington Post, and her YouTube video of Saudi women driving for International Women's Day (in Arabic).

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