Headlines Saudi Women Won't Vote in Elections


Seeker of Truth
Associated Press

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Women may neither vote nor run in Saudi Arabia's first nationwide elections, the government announced Monday, dashing hopes of progressive Saudis and easing fears among conservatives that the kingdom is moving too fast on reforms.

Some women considered the move yet another indignity in a country where they need their husbands' permission to study, travel or work. But others said they wouldn't trust themselves to judge whether a candidate is more than just a handsome face.

The religious establishment had been lobbying against women's participation in the elections, diplomats said.

But an electoral official cited administrative and logistical reasons Monday for the decision to ban women from the municipal elections, scheduled to be held in three stages from Feb. 10 to April 21.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there are not enough women to run women's-only registration centers and polling stations, and that only a fraction of the country's women have the photo identity cards that would have been needed to vote.

Many women in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have balked at getting the ID cards — introduced three years ago — because the photographs would show their faces unveiled.

Saudi women have limited freedoms. Without written permission from a male guardian, they may not travel, get an education or work. Regardless of permissions, they are not allowed to drive, mix with men in public or leave home without covering themselves with black cloaks, called abayas.

The decision was first announced by Interior Minister Prince Nayef in an interview published Monday. In his terse comment to a Kuwaiti newspaper, Nayef said only: "I don't think that women's participation is possible."

Voting would be a nice thing for Saudi women, but perhaps they could also think about making then citizens, first.

In Saudi Arabia physical spousal abuse and violence against women, such violence and abuse appear to be common problems.

A Saudi man may prevent his wife and any child or unmarried adult daughter from obtaining an exit visa to depart the country.

Employers abuse foreign women working as domestic servants by forced confinement, withholding of food, beating and other physical abuse, and rape.

Women have few political or social rights and are not treated as equal members of society.

Women legally may not drive motor vehicles.

Are restricted in their use of public facilities when men are present.
Women must enter city buses by separate rear entrances and sit in specially designated sections.

Women are not admitted to a hospital for medical treatment without the consent of a male relative.

In public a woman is expected to wear an abaya (a black garment that covers the entire body) and to cover her head and face.

Some government officials and ministries still bar accredited female diplomats in the country from official meetings.

Women also are subject to discrimination under Shari'a as interpreted in Saudi Arabia, which stipulates that daughters receive half the inheritance awarded to their brothers.

In a Shari'a court, the testimony of one man equals that of two women (see Section 1.e.).

Islamic law permits polygymy, with up to four wives.

If divorced or widowed, a Muslim woman normally may keep her children until they attain a specified age: 7 years for boys, 9 years for girls.

Women are excluded from studying such subjects as engineering, journalism, and architecture.


Resident Conservative
Not to mention "honor killings" if they are victimized by rape...

its fuckin sick... there should be more public outcry about the way women are treated in the Middle East and in Northern Africa...

Female circumcision is horrible...

why is it that free women in Europe and North America don't step up to the plate and make this a huge international issue... it makes womens issues here seem almost petty...