This week I read on Twitter that a Saudi female lawyer has developed an app that helps women understand their rights. I was surprised that this news item was not mentioned in international media, which usually picks up information concerning women’s rights in Saudi Arabia very quickly.
Women’s rights is an issue that is strongly associated with Saudi Arabia’s negative image. Not a week passes by without this topic in media, and the Saudi government being criticized for its record. Frankly, I think that media don’t know much about Saudi Arabia except this topic concerning women, human rights and oil. I might be wrong, but I rarely see any other topics being discussed.
One reason clearly is that one cannot travel to Saudi Arabia easily, unlike to other GCC countries. In addition, Saudi Arabia has not made enough effort to market itself, which makes it easier to dwell on prejudices.
It is true that in many Saudi families women are being controlled by their fathers, brothers, husband or whoever else may be their guardian. This very famous word “guardianship” is the umbrella for males’ misuse of power. In Islamic law (Sharia), which Saudi law is based on, a woman lives under the protection of her guardian. Unfortunately, in many cases, this is not reality. Some men tend to use the power of guardianship as a means of control, and neglect to take on their full responsibilities towards who they should protect.
The Quran says in Sura An Nisa Sura: “Men are in charge of women by (right of) what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend from their wealth.”
The exact interpretation of the above by the famous Islamic scholar Ibn Al Qaim states that men are responsible for women not only financially, but also in treatment and respect.
In abuse cases, none of these obligations are fulfilled and rights are taken. In Saudi society, women are trained to listen, not to object, and to follow. Probably one of the reasons why Saudi women have found their way to get things done because they could not reach their goals directly.
Nisreen Al Eissa, a Saudi female lawyer with a law firm in Riyadh, has developed an App that teaches women about their rights given by Sharia. Lawyer Al Eissa appeared often in Arabic and international media talking about her support for women and that she is a women’s advocate.
In my opinion, this is the best solution for Saudi women in their battle for their rights. If men base their argumentations on Sharia, women can as well do. They were kept in the dark too long.