Saudi women break taboos with unconventional jobs

Updated 29 January 2014
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Saudi women break taboos with unconventional jobs

Financial hardship and social circumstances have forced many Saudi women to accept jobs that they would have rejected in the past for traditional reasons.
“After my divorce, I stayed at my parent’s house with my five children,” said Um Nawal, a 30-year-old divorced mother. Her father told her to give up her children if she wanted to live in the family house.
“I refused, left the house and rented a place of my own. A friend told me about a job as a saleswoman at a women’s shop,” she said.
Um Nawal said, “I really needed income for my children to live a decent life. I accepted, but was embarrassed at first. I have since become the director of the branch.”
She explained that not working for fear of social reprimand is redundant, especially if the job can be carried out in a safe environment.
Bariah Ali, an event manager at a hotel, agreed with her: “I am a divorced woman with no children, but my financial situation is poor. I badly needed to earn my own fixed income to live a decent life.”
She said she found this job “despite my family’s objections, who care for our traditions as a conservative family.”
“I now earn more than my sister, who has been working as a teacher for 15 years,” said Ali.
Asmma, a director of a women’s shop, said she got a job as a saleswoman within six months of her divorce.
“I needed an income to provide for my children and pay rent. There is no shame in a woman working to provide for her family if the job is within a decent environment,” she said. She added that Saudi women proved they could work and succeed in every field of work.
Abrar Muhammad, a social worker at a charity organization, said some families still hold on to the idea that women should work only in a limited range of jobs.
“Some of our customs and traditions have forced women to enroll in a limited range of functions that are difficult to obtain, especially in these present circumstances.”
She referred to women working in public places that many parents reject under the pretext of mixing with men. “Women working in compliance with Islamic law by wearing Islamic attire is a very important issue for both the economics of the country at large and for females and their families,” said the social worker.


Giant great white shark swims with Hawaii divers

Diver Ocean Ramsey (@oceanramsey) swims next to a female great white shark off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii on January 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2019
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Giant great white shark swims with Hawaii divers

HALEIWA, Hawaii: Two shark researchers who came face to face with what could be one of the largest great whites ever recorded are using their encounter as an opportunity to push for legislation that would protect sharks in Hawaii.
Ocean Ramsey, a shark researcher and conservationist, told The Associated Press that she encountered the 20-foot (6-meter) shark Tuesday near a dead sperm whale off Oahu.
The event was documented and shared on social media by her fiancé and business partner Juan Oliphant.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said it was aware of photos of the great white and that tiger sharks also have been feeding on the whale.
Oliphant, who photographed the now-viral images, said it’s unclear if the shark is the famed Deep Blue, believed to be the largest great white ever recorded.
“She looks the part right now,” Oliphant said about the shark spotted Tuesday. “Maybe even more exciting that there is another massive, you know, super-size great white shark out there. Because their populations are so dwindling.”
Ramsey, who operates Oahu-based One Ocean Diving and Research with Oliphant, said she has been pushing for several years for a bill that would ban the killing of sharks and rays in Hawaii, and hopes this year the measure will become law.
She said the images of her swimming next to a huge great white shark prove the predators should be protected, not feared.
Still, the veteran shark diver doesn’t think the general public should recklessly get into the water with the giants, especially around a food source like a rotting whale carcass.
Ramsey said extensive training and time spent studying shark behavior has kept her team and customers safe. She teaches people about how to act and, more importantly, not act when they encounter a shark in the water.
Ramsey and her team observe behavior, identify and tag sharks and share that data with researchers as well as state and federal officials. She said she previously swam with the huge shark on research trips to Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
She also leads cage-free shark diving tours.
Unlike many marine mammals, sharks are not a federally protected species, though there are laws against the sale of their fins.
“There’s not a lot of sympathy for sharks because of the way they’re portrayed in media and they don’t have the cute cuddly appearance,” Ramsey said. “You can’t hate them for being predators. We need them for healthy marine ecosystems.”
Ramsey and Oliphant want to make sure that people realize that shark bites are uncommon.
“The idea that they see people as a food source, that is rubbish and that needs to go away because really that’s ultimately leading to the demise of these animals,” Oliphant said.
State Sen. Mike Gabbard sponsored the shark protection legislation last session and plans to reintroduce it this year. The bill died in the House when it wasn’t heard by the House Judiciary Committee.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said the decomposing whale carcass had drifted to about eight miles (13 kilometers) south of Pearl Harbor after being towed 15 miles (24 kilometers) offshore days earlier.
Officials say there have been reports that people are climbing onto the carcass to take its teeth as souvenirs, which may be a violation of state and federal laws.
The agency’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Chief Jason Redull said people should stay out of the water around the dead whale.
“Understandably, some people want to get into the water either out of fascination or to get photographs, but it is truly dangerous to be around this carcass with so much shark activity,” he said.
Ramsey said it’s impressive that the great white has survived a “gauntlet of human death traps.”
“I don’t know how old she is,” Ramsey said. “But for her to survive through so many longline fisheries and,. you know, gill nets and team nets and fishermen who might just kill her because they think that she is a monster ... it’s very special.”