A 75-year-old Syrian woman was sentenced to 40 lashes, four months imprisonment and deportation from Saudi Arabia, for having two unrelated men in her house.
The men were reportedly taking bread to the widow Khamisa Sawadi, who was married to a Saudi, and one of them was her late husband’s nephew. The two men were also charged with ‘mingling’ with an unrelated woman and sentenced to prison and lashes, sparking criticism for the country’s judiciary and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Via Amira, a female Saudi blogger named Sabria Jawhar offers her take on the Sawadi case.
Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in the advancement of women in key government positions. The appointments of Noral Al-Faiz as deputy minister for Girls’ Education and Dr. Fatimah Abdullah Al-Saleem as cultural attaché at the Saudi Embassy in Canada by the Ministry of Higher Education, inspires Saudi women. Saudi women view Al-Faiz and Al-Saleem as role models, recognizing that they, too, can achieve success on their own terms.
Yet the social realities are that Al-Faiz and Al-Saleem are the exceptions, not the rule, of what Saudi women face in the future. For every Al-Faiz and Al-Saleem there are 100 Khamisa Sawadis. For every female Saudi graduate student studying abroad, there are 100 other Saudi women denied their right to divorce abusive husbands or to gain custody of their children.