According to women’s rights organizations about 1,000 women flee Saudi Arabia each year. That statistic is not surprising considering what they have to put up with. Amal is a 20 year old woman in Saudi Arabia who has already suffered immensely in her short life. Here is her story:
When Amal was 9 years old she was required to wear an ‘Abiya’: the traditional garb of an Arab woman which is long and includes a head covering. Upon turning 11 she changed to wearing a Hijab and at age 14 she was required to cover her face when venturing out in public, if not she would be beaten. Amal one time bought a normal dress on her own and wore it. She soon learned the hard way that you don’t just do those things as she was brutally beaten by her father mother and brothers.
Amal says that any decision a woman wants to make about her life- for example who to marry, what to study and where and where to work are all decided for her; she has no say in the matter just like the rest of women in Saudi Arabia. The sole decision maker for these things will always be a man appointed by the government as her guardian. This guardian can be her father, brother, uncle or grandfather. Sometimes even a nephew or son will make these decisions for his mother or aunt many years older than him. And this decision making isn’t relegated to major decisions; even the minor ones are out of the purview of a woman to make. She cannot decide to take a trip overseas without permission of the aforementioned guardian, nor can she have a necessary medical procedure with that permission and so on and so forth. It is illegal for her to drive a car or even ride a bicycle. Removing the hijab may not officially be illegal but no self-respecting family would let a woman do that in Saudi Arabia.
This may seem oppressing to us but Amal is quite used to it not being familiar with anything else. This is her ‘normal’ though at times certain situations will remind her she is no better than a maidservant in her own home and country.
Theoretically, Amal can get a job and make some money and then perhaps even flee the country but she is forbidden by her family to go work. Her father, who is responsible for her, rightfully believes that as soon as she has some money she won’t need him. So he won’t let her go out and work.
Amal dreams of running away and get asylum in a different country but horror stories of other women’s failed attempts to do this keep her from trying. For example: A Saudi woman named Dina Ali Lasalom was visiting Kuwait with her family. She tried using the opportunity to flee to Australia but she was taken off the plane as she got on a connecting flight in the Philippines. She was detained for many hours until she was ‘reunited’ with her family which immediately confiscated her passport. She has since disappeared; no one knows of her whereabouts or if she is even alive. This story isn’t an isolated incident. Women who try running away get forced back home and severely punished for even trying.
Women in Saudi Arabia must marry as soon as possible; society cares about little else. A man can beat his wife, steal from her and sometimes even kill her and never stand before a court for it. Even if he did chances are he’d be acquitted.
Do these women complain about their dire situation? Most don’t; as we said for most of them this is what they grew up with and this is their ‘normal’. A woman in Saudi Arabia has one job and purpose and that’s it; to raise children. That’s why she can’t have her own bank account or own any property and can’t go to work and they must wear their monochrome outfit that covers their entire body from head to toe. Adult women in Saudi Arabia believe the house is where a woman belongs until she is taken out for burial.
Amal gets up in the morning and goes to her studies accompanied by her brothers. When her studies finish she must every day wait 2 hours at the school until her brother s finish their studies to accompany her back home because she is forbidden to ‘roam the streets’ without his watchful accompaniment. Amal spends most of her day sleeping; there is simply not much else to do each day is the same as the one before it and the next one will be the same with no escape.
Why would a nice young Jewish lady marry an Arab Muslim and end up living the same way?
If you know a Jewish woman in a relationship with or considering a relationship with a non-Jew please call ‘Shavuyot’- Captives at 052-955-1951 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Discretion is guaranteed.