Thursday, March 20, 2008

Catch-22 in Saudi Arabia (Arab News)

From the English-language Saudi daily Arab News:
A woman in her 50s from the southern town of Khamis Mushayt is appealing to the region’s governor to intervene to break off her marriage to a man she says has abused her on numerous occasions. [....]

Um Hassan claims that she fled because her husband would beat her. She claims that one of her daughters threatened suicide because of the domestic abuse erupting around her. When she went to the police, she was told that the police could do nothing because she was a woman coming to them without her mahram — her legal male guardian, who is the same person from whom she was seeking protection.
Makes sense to me.

But let's not exaggerate. It's not as though she had no recourse at all.
Um Hassan is currently living with her elderly mother and her husband has not allowed her to see her two daughters since she ran away from him eight months ago. The judge declined her request to see her girls, saying she’ll just have to wait until they’ve grown up and have been married. Um Hassan has a son, too, but she says he is also abusive.
You can read the whole story here. (Via Mick Hartley)

--Jeff Weintraub