(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - In Saudi Arabia, dozens of female activists have launched a campaign called “my right, my dignity”, aimed at ending the discrimination against the Saudi women including the driving ban.
Meanwhile, a Saudi activist who has defied the kingdom's prohibition on women driving will be put on trial.
There is an interview with Ali al-Ahmed, Director of IGA from New York, to share his opinion on this issue.
Q: Speaking about the discriminations against Saudi women, what more can you tell us about that discrimination inside Saudi Arabia?
Al-Ahmed: Well women in Saudi Arabia are still treated as the property of their male family members and they cannot decide. Many of the rights that women around the world and in region enjoy such as the right to have surgery, women in Saudi Arabia if she needs surgery or enters hospital she needs permission from their husband, father or son. The woman in that country cannot obviously drive, cannot decide where to go because the father or the guardian is in charge of that and decides even if she can get married or not.
So you are talking about the status of women, the personal agency women is not there for Saudi women and the Saudi law forces them to be subject to their male family members. And in addition to that, this announcement about allowing women to vote in 2015 is really meant to try to stop the protest that is going to happen by women, to participate in elections as full members, and it is also trying to cover up the abuses of women in that country. Women in that country cannot even play sports. You see, in your country in Iran they are allowed to play sports and to have federations. In Saudi Arabia, women will go to jail if they drive or if they try to play any kind of sports or try to marry the person that they love. So this is the situation that continues to be very bad for them.
Q: The things you are referring to about the kinds of discriminations that women inside Saudi Arabia are facing right now when you say they are not allowed to marry the person that they like, that they are viewed as a property for the male members of society, now is that something you think that is too much inherent in Saudi society to change?
Or is it because you think that Saudi Arabia, up until now, has not been under enough scrutiny from the international community, maybe, or from international human rights organization to try and talk over or rather discuss a solution for the situation there for women?
Al-Ahmed: Obviously, the international community has not brought any pressure on the Saudi monarchy to allow to give rights to women. Let's just look at Bill Clinton, the former president of the United States praising king Abdullah for his reforms. The same thing was authored by the State Department and the White House. For what reforms, I do not understand? They believe that the people of the region are ignorant or something. You have a situation for women that is the worst situation for women in the world.
Around the world, in Muslim countries, women are able to convey themselves as personal, they have their personal agency. They are allowed to become drivers, to become ministers, to vote, to participate. In Saudi Arabia, that is not the case.
So to praise this monarchy for something that is minute, really, this enhances and allows the monarchy to continue to discriminate against women and it prolongs the suffering of women in Saudi Arabia. So anyone, any Western leader or government who praises the Saudi monarchy for any steps on women rights or women rights in general, what they are doing, they are becoming partners to the abuse of the people in Saudi Arabia.
Q: We are hearing now of the “my right”, “my dignity” campaign launched by the women inside Saudi Arabia. Now do you think that the fundamental changes that you were speaking about to be enforced in Saudi Arabia can be possible and can happen under the current ruling monarchy in Saudi Arabia even if it is to save face for the international community or do you think that bringing about these fundamental changes requires very much more fundamental changes in the ruling system of Saudi Arabia?
Al-Ahmed: Obviously, the situation of women in Saudi Arabia is a direct result of the shape and the characteristic of this regime. So that must change, political change must happen in order to allow women to participate fully and to become a normal member of society, unlike the situation that they are in, it is one of the most horrific situations for the women around the world.