Saudi Arabia: March 8, women's rights petition ready

It demands Shura to end to men's absolute power over women

03 March, 20:01

    A 35-year-old Saudi woman pictured during a press conference in Berlin A 35-year-old Saudi woman pictured during a press conference in Berlin

    (by Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) - DUBAI - Women in Saudi Arabia are committing themselves to not organize dinners, anniversaries and celebrations on March 8, but to finalize a petition in honour of International Women's Day that will be delivered to the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia or Shura Council, a formal advisory body to the monarchy, asking for an end to the absolute power of men over women in the oil kingdom.

    "A woman is considered a perennial minor," wrote Haya Al-Manee in the pages of the newspaper Al-Riyadh. Al-Manee is one of 30 women parliamentarians nominated by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in February of last year in a historically unprecedented measure for Saudi Arabia. "By the laws of the Kingdom, a man is considered a minor until he reaches his 18th year of age," she explained, "But a woman, from a legal point of view, remains always a minor, regardless of age".

    In the ultra-conservative Saudi kingdom, which follows a strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, the segregation of the sexes is nearly total, and men are given custody of the women and the family. In concrete terms, a woman can not ask for an identity document, leave the country, study, press charges in court or even undergo surgical operations without the consent of her male "guardian". An isolated case in the world, women are still denied the right to vote or drive in Saudia Arabia. "Restrictions imposed on women that don't even have a religious basis," responds Aziza Yousef, an activist and one of the signers of the petition. The document, which at the moment is supported by 25 noteworthy Saudi women including university professors, asks the 150 members of the Shura Council to launch the necessary measures to protect the rights of women and halt domestic violence.

    Under the same column, beyond cases recognized as such throughout the world, also to be included are guardians who block marriage or impose it on minors, and divorce or repudiate their wives without valid reasons.

    A woman's situation with respect to the man is one of total weakness and subordination, with tragic and intolerable implications.

    The latest case was the death of a university student a few weeks ago among the screams of her companions because the authorities of the institution, without consent of her guardian, did not let ambulance paramedics - all men - to enter the campus and help her. (ANSAmed)

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