I’m talking about women, I’m talking about Saudi Arabia. When the movement arose to support anti-apartheid in South Africa it became an international cause celebre, millions of powerful and connected people militating in every way to support Mandela. Clearly, apartheid was wrong, and South Africa had to change.
Why isn’t the same sort of thing happening for women in Saudi Arabia? This is a civil rights issue. This is a human rights issue. A woman in Saudi Arabia is going to get ten lashes for driving a car. Women are not allowed to leave the house without their faces covered, without a male escort. They are mostly not permitted any serious schooling. They have fewer freedoms than many black slaves had–at least black slaves were allowed out without their faces covered and could go into town on errands alone. Saudi women cannot currently vote but may be able to vote in “municipal” elections in 2015. (It’s not entirely certain.) They have no appreciable freedom of speech. They are second class citizens at best. They are an enslaved people. The USA stood up to South Africa–why not Saudi Arabia?
Of course, there are two glaringly obvious reasons. Oil is one–they supply a good deal of our oil and have a cozy relationship with American industry. The other reason is our strategic relationship with the Saudis (which is probably not what it seems since powerful Saudis had a hand in financing the 9/11 attacks.)
Neither reason stands up to any test of ethical justification. We should immediately make plans to organize international sanctions against the Saudis for their treatment of women. The European Union and the United States and any other country regarding itself as civilized should condemn Saudi Arabia and take active part in economic sanctions. If American and European women demand it, it’ll happen.
Another possibility should be considered by international women’s organizations. Women in oppressive Arabic countries should consider arming themselves, perhaps with the help of women’s organizations, and forming militias. Women are capable of being efficient, effective warriors. If nothing else works, women should have the opportunity to fight for their freedom, yes, with guns and bullets.
Here’s the HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH report on women in Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia continues to treat women as legal minors, allowing male guardians to determine whether a woman may work, study, marry, travel, or undergo certain medical procedures. The government has not fulfilled its 2009 pledge to the United Nations Human Rights Council to dismantle the male guardianship system… The brothers of two unrelated women-one in Buraida, the other in Riyadh-acting as their guardians, forced their sisters to marry five men each, for money and against their wills. In January 2010 a court in Qasim province sentenced Sawsan Salim to 300 lashes and one-and-a-half years in prison for appearing [in court] without a male guardian.”