Please see 3 PARTS of this WUNRN Release on Saudi Arabla.








Date of signature

Date of receipt of the instrument of ratification,
accession or succession


Saudi Arabia

7 September 2000

7 September 2000 b/





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Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

40th session (14 January - 1 February 2008)



Thursday, 17 January 2008

Combined initial and second periodic reports of States Parties


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"In Saudi Arabia, a male guardian, who could be the woman's grandfather, father, uncle, husband, son or brother, literally controls her life."

Saudi Women Stifled by Stringent Restrictions

Nov 23, 2007

DUBAI (AFP) Women in the ultra-conservative Muslim powerhouse of Saudi Arabia navigate through life amid harsh restrictions imposed by a rigid interpretation of Islam and stringent tradition.

These constraints were highlighted again this month after a judge sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes of the whip a 19-year-old woman who was kidnapped at knife-point with a male companion and then gang-raped.

They are mostly unwritten restrictions based on tradition and religion and as such have come to be considered law.

Home to Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ruled by Wahhabism, a rigorous doctrine of Sunni Islam whose sharia (laws) impose a total segretation of the sexes.

So in the view of the kingdom's conservative society, the young rape victim broke the first of a string of cardinal rules and sinned by being in the physical presence of a male who is not a directly-related relative.

In Saudi Arabia, a male guardian, who could be the woman's grandfather, father, uncle, husband, son or brother, literally controls her life.

And no matter how old they are, Saudi women need a "mahram" or a guardian -- a husband or close male relative if they are widowed or single -- in order to apply for and obtain a passport.

"Here, the son is the male guardian of his mother if she is a widow or divorced. She would need his written approval for anything... She has no value," said Saudi activist Wajiha al-Hweider

Fellow women rights activist Hatoon al-Fassi said women in Saudi Arabia suffer from the lack of written laws, which subjects rulings concerning them to the discretion of jugdes, and complained of "male-chauvinism" in her country.

"A woman is treated always as a minor and as a second-class citizen," said Fassi, a history at King Saud University in Riyadh.

In Saudi Arabia, sex segretation means that women attending a conference must sit behind a partition to ensure no eye or physical contact with male delegates.

And they certainly cannot eat alone in restaurants, where seating is arranged for "families' -- women accompanied by husbands or male guardians -- or for men only.

A religious police known as "mutawas", or pious men, criss-cross the kingdom's streets to ensure that the rules are strictly observed and shield the nation against vice.

The "mutawas", who stop couples to check their identities, belong to the Saudi Commission for the Protection of Virtue and Suppression of Vice, which also ensure that Saudi women are dressed properly according.

Women must be covered from head to toe, hiding their shapes thanks to a loose-fitting black "abaya" gown, and most of them wear as well a "hijab" veil over the heads and a "niqab" mask concealing the faces, except for the eyes.

Some women, however, have begun to remove the "niqab".

But in Saudi Arabia none of them have the right to drive.

Information Minister Iyad bin Amin Madani was quoted as saying last year that nothing in the law prevented women from applying for a driving licence.

A group of 47 women defied the taboo in November 1990, and cruised Riyadh unchecked for half an hour before police swooped down, detained them and reprimanded their male guardians.

Although women cannot drive or be in the presence of an unrelated male relative, they can be chauffeured around by hired drivers not related to the family.

Political constraints also mean that Saudi women are totally absent from the Shura (consultative) Council, an all-male body whose members are appointed by the king, and were barred from landmark municipal elections in 2005.

But despite the restrictions more women than men in Saudi Arabia pursue higher education and the number of females active in the business sector is on the rise.

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