For Some Saudi Women Facing Strict Controls And Even Abuse, There’s Only One Answer: Run

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In Saudi Arabia, fleeing even an abusive home is a crime for women. Their male relatives wield vast power under the kingdom’s guardianship system, which prohibits women from running away from male guardians, including fathers and husbands, and gives those relatives control over their ability to obtain passports and travel.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

When a Saudi woman living at home with her parents and siblings asked her brother to fix something in her room a few months ago, he asked what color underwear she was wearing.

She found the comment chilling.

Her father had already tried to grope her. When she hid in her room, installing a lock and stockpiling food, he made lewd phone calls from elsewhere in the house while he masturbated, she said.

Upset, she fled to furnished apartments for days at a time, but always returned when her father, who is her guardian under Saudi law, phoned.

“He would threaten, ‘I’m going to file a case against you that you ran away. I’m not going to let you work,'” said Hala, 30, who works in health care. As she spoke at a women’s coffee shop recently, she glanced around nervously, covering her face with a black veil when strangers approached. She asked to be identified only by her first name out of fear over the consequences of being publicly identified.

In Saudi Arabia, fleeing even an abusive home is a crime for women. Their male relatives wield vast power under the kingdom’s guardianship system, which prohibits women from running away from male guardians, including fathers and husbands, and gives those relatives control over their ability to obtain passports and travel. If runaways are caught, they can be jailed until their guardian allows them to be released.

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *