Friday, December 14, 2007

Do We Need Someone to Watch Over Us?

Abeer Mishkhas, Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

In a recent case reported in Arab News, two girls, aged 13 and 11, are said to have been sexually assaulted by their brother. They were taken to hospital where they remained for 11 days without being checked by the doctors to confirm the assault. The story goes on to say that one of the reasons the doctors did not check was because permission was required from either a judge or the legal guardian of the two girls who, in this case, is an alcoholic father. So what happened next? Nothing ... What I really want to know is why every woman in Saudi Arabia need to have a legal guardian? I understand the necessity to have some sort of a guardian for underaged girls and boys, although this right must be subject to some kind of control and certainly should not be absolute. The way things are in the Kingdom, the legal guardian owns his ward; his ward can do nothing without his approval or permission. If we leave childhood and move on to adulthood, the system remains the same. The guardian is able to exercise the same absolute rights and powers and no matter how old or educated the woman is, she has to have a man who is responsible for her. After all, according to Saudi thought, a woman with no guardian is a problem just waiting to happen.

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