Saudi women reject US claim they are oppressed

Saudi women reject US claim they are oppressed
In this file photo, Saudi women shop at mall in Riyadh. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 June 2016

Saudi women reject US claim they are oppressed

Saudi women reject US claim they are oppressed

WASHINGTON/JEDDAH: Several Saudi women have rejected claims by the US State Department that women are oppressed in the Kingdom, with daily discrimination experienced socially and in the workplace.
The claims were rejected by Lina Almaeena, founder and CEO of Jeddah United Sports Company, who said: “Women have gone through transformation all around the world, including the US, where (at one time) they could not vote or run in the Boston Marathon.”
“We (Saudi society] are evolving and we have come a long way, as now women are part of the Shoura Council (Consultative Assembly). It was unthinkable in the past. Change is a process and it is coming to Saudi Arabia,” she said in an interview with Voice of America.
Allen Keiswetter, a scholar at Washington’s Middle East Institute, agreed with the notion that change was coming to Saudi Arabia with regard to women’s rights but that it was slow. Access to education would increase opportunities for them, he was quoted as saying.
Thuraya E. Al-Arrayed, a member of the Shoura Council, told VoA that women have power in the consultative body. “The reports of all ministries that should go to the ministers, and then to the king, come to us. We read these reports carefully and see whether we agree with what they ask for. The decision of the king is based on what we advise.”
Ghadah Al-Ghunaim said many Westerners look at a women’s veil as a sign of discrimination but this was wrong. She said the veil, whether worn for religious or traditional reasons, was a sign of respect, and that the Virgin Mary wore the hijab.