Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Slavery Is Alive and Extremely Well

When does placing women on a pedestal in a position of honor cross the line into denying her most basic civil rights and, in effect, indenturing her into a lifetime of forced servitude? In other words slavery?

It's happening every day in virtually all Islamic countries, but especially Saudi Arabia.

The Associated Press reports, in what is just the latest horror story from the Kingdom,
Forced annulment keeps couple apart:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Two years ago, a knock on Fatima and Mansour al-Timani's door shattered the life they had built together.

It was the police, delivering news that a judge had annulled their marriage in absentia after some of Fatima's relatives sought the divorce on grounds she had married beneath her.

That was just the beginning of an ordeal for a couple who — under Saudi Arabia's strict segregation rules — can no longer live together. They sued to reverse the ruling, publicized their story and sought help from a Saudi human rights group.

But the two remain apart and Fatima said she is considering suicide if her recent appeal to King Abdullah does not reunite her with her husband.

"Only the king can resolve my case," Fatima told The Associated Press by telephone in a rare interview. "I want to return to my husband, but if that is not possible, I need to know so I can put an end to my life."

Fatima's case underscores shortcomings in the kingdom's Islamic legal system in which rules of evidence are shaky, lawyers are not always present and sentences often depend on the whim of judges.

The most frequent victims are women, who already suffer severe restrictions on daily life in Saudi Arabia: They cannot drive, appear before a judge without a male representative, or travel abroad without a male guardian's permission.

Recently, the king did intervene and pardon another high-profile defendant — a rape victim who was sentenced to lashes and jail time for being in a car with a man who was not her relative.

The two cases have brought Saudi human rights once again into the international spotlight, revealing not only the weakness of the kingdom's justice system, but the scant rights of Saudi women.

"When I heard that the (rape victim) was pardoned, I couldn't believe it. My case is so much simpler than hers, since my divorce is invalid," Fatima said.

But on Feb. 25, 2006, police knocked on the couple's door to serve Mansour with divorce papers — which said his marriage had been annulled nine months earlier.

"We were shattered. How did this happen? Why?" Fatima asked.

Under Saudi law, a woman needs the permission of her family to marry.

Fatima took the couple's 2-year-old daughter and 4-month-old son to live with her mother, who had persuaded her to let Mansour deal with the legal issues on his own.

But after three months without her husband, Fatima and the children sneaked out of her mother's house and flew with Mansour to the western seaside city of Jiddah, where they sought to live in anonymity.

Saudi police soon discovered them and imprisoned the family for living together illegally.

"My children and I were thrown in a cell with women sentenced for pushing drugs, practicing witchcraft and behaving immorally," Fatima said. Authorities allowed her to send her daughter back to live with her father, but the infant stayed with Fatima in jail.

Despite their legal fight, Fatima and Mansour remain apart.

After nine months in jail, Fatima moved to an orphanage where she and her son share an apartment with several other women.

Fatima said she is holding out hope the king might pardon her, and recognize her as "married to Mansour, before God."

"I love him more than ever. He's the only one who has stood by me," she said.

Isn't it fascinating that the family IS NOT DISGRACED by having their sister and daughter held in jail or forced to live in a orphanage, in absolute poverty, but the family IS DISGRACED by having her live with a loving, caring and supportive husband from a lower caste?

Isn't it equally fascinating that most American Women's Rights groups are cowered into absolute silence by the plight of Islamic women?

I would just love to provide a link to the statement from the National Organization for Women...... but they have declined to issue one.

And I would love to link to a listing of all the posts by the over 100 so-called liberal bloggers over at The Huffington Post, but not one single blogger has issued one single comment. Not one.

Saudi women deserve a strong, unequivocal voice for freedom and basic human rights in the world forum.

For me this case and the thousands just like it are the strongest argument for energy independence.


Vigilante said...

Your posting on this subject is a valid public service, but using it to lampoon "liberals" for ignoring this subject does not even approach the same level of validity. You should look around, Wizard before you make such vacuous claims. Not to do so undermines your reputation for fairness.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

Vacuous? Thanks for providing the links to the outpouring of support for Fatima and Mansour from women's rights and/or liberal groups here in the US.

Fortunately, there is major support in Europe and even among groups and bloggers in the Middle East.

And, once agan, there is support among conservative bloggers and groups here in the USA.

The issue seems to be a reluctance by liberals to criticize anything Islamic. Why? Is any enemy of George Bush now a "protected class?"

I appreciate the insult. In a sense it's a step in the right direction. But where is the real support for women held hostage in Islamic countries?

Vigilante said...

Wizard, it's just that you come up with these self-evident subjects. Everyone and his uncle knows that women are oppressed in traditional Islamic societies. What do you want me to say?

This is just one more edition in your series,

"Have Liberals Stopped Beating Their Wives?"

I like you dearly, but sometimes you just get tiresome.

I don't have the time to do the research, so I retract the word 'vacuous'.