Wednesday, March 3, 2010

RIGHTS: Saudi Arabia Faulted for Feudal Justice

By Thalif Deen

"UNITED NATIONS, Mar 2, 2010 (IPS/TerraViva) - Against the backdrop of a two-week U.N. meeting on gender empowerment, the London-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has blasted the government of Saudi Arabia for its feudal system of justice where women continue to be victimised because of their gender.

A Saudi court has sentenced a woman, Sawsan Salim, to 300 lashes and 18 months in prison for filing harassment complaints without the required accompaniment by a male guardian. While her husband was in prison, Salim sought the help of a local judge to gain the spouse's release.

The verdict, says HRW, reflects the discriminatory system of male guardianship in Saudi Arabia, in which women are prohibited from many acts without the presence of a male guardian.

"Women's rights in Saudi Arabia are somewhat worse than in other countries in the region because of the male guardianship system," Nadya Khalife, HRW's women's rights researcher for the Middle East, told IPS........"

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