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Home Current Saudi News & Analysis Saudi Women: “What Did I Do Wrong?”

Saudi Women: “What Did I Do Wrong?”

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Saudi Women: “What Did I Do Wrong?”

CDHR Commentary: As I was leaving the Women’s March on January 20, in Oakland, Ca., I saw a small hand scribbled sign in an elderly woman’s hand asking: “What did I do wrong?” That simple ambiguous phrase captured my attention. I wonder what it meant, but interpreted it to mean that other than being a woman, what had she done wrong to be here on this chilly morning protesting being discriminated against because of the way she was created, a woman.

After the rally, a friend forwarded an article to me titled: SAUDI WOMAN WHO ATTENDED HISTORIC SOCCER MATCH: ‘NO WORDS CAN DESCRIBE HOW AMAZING IT WAS’. Suddenly, the sign I saw at the rally came to life. The Saudi woman who stated that ‘NO WORDS CAN DESCRIBE HOW AMAZING IT WAS’ was not referring to the soccer match, the stadium or the players. She was expressing a much deeper feeling Saudi women can relate to and identify with. For this woman and for millions of other Saudi women, this was the first time they were allowed to enter a stadium and watch the game from their segregated section, (gender segregation is enforced by the state in Saudi Arabia.)

Women who are not bound and can afford to pay can go to a sport arena to watch games anywhere in the world, except in Saudi Arabia. Saudi women have not only been prevented from watching games in sport arenas, but are not allowed to drive and cannot travel or seek employment without a male guardian’s approval, within the male guardian system.

The Saudi women have done nothing wrong, other than being born women. Consequently, they have endured decades of debasing and chauvinistic political, religious, social and economic policies. The Saudi religious, political and business elites consider and treat women as inferior, unthinking and incapable of feeding themselves despite the fact that millions of Saudi women are highly educated and the few who have had opportunities have proven to be superior to the men who oppress and denigrate them.

Despite the most restrictive, discriminatory, inhumane and anti-human development policies and practices they face, Saudi women are fighting back in ways that are not only changing their conditions, but undermining the misogynistic and bigoted policies that have held their lagging country hostage for decades and promoted backwardness, extremism and terrorism.

Recently, the Saudi regime has announced some embryonic steps to allow women to go to sport arenas, attend segregated entertainment events, to drive, vote in meaningless municipal elections and to open guardian approved bank accounts.  These steps are not the actions of a benevolent government as western media and beneficiaries of Saudi largess claim. They are the result of Saudi women’s struggle to obtain their basic rights.


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