Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
It seems that these days, all one has to do is turn around, to find some disgusting fact about this alleged ‘religion of peace’. In this case, it’s Muslim equivalent of Wild Kingdom. Only in this case, we’re not talking about wild animals, but people
In a country where women are denied the right to vote, are not allowed to drive, and are basically treated like children, Saudi Arabia has taken its next giant leap backwards by rolling out an SMS electronic tracking system that alerts male "guardians" by text message whenever women under their protection leave the country. The development has been met with outrage by reformers, who have turned to Twitter to voice their concern.
Saudi Arabia is a complete mess as far as women's rights is concerned. It ranks 130th out of 134 countries for gender equality — a nation where only 16.5% of women make up the workforce. As devout followers of Sharia Law, all women, regardless of age, require a male guardian and cannot leave the country without written consent.
And now, judging by a flurry of incoming accounts, it's clear that the country has covertly implemented a new system that will further serve to strengthen its control over women.
It all started last week when a Saudi man travelling with his wife began to get text messages on his phone from the immigration authorities alerting him to the fact that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh (she was listed as a dependent on his national identity card). Concerned, he contacted Manal al-Sherif, a women's rights campaigner in Saudi Arabia, who then broadcast the news over Twitter.
For insanity and double-standards, all you need to do is look at religion. Especially Islam, where women are considered little more than chattel – because of course, no one would ever consider doing this sort of thing to a man.
And of course, the rationalizations come pouring in:
And as it turned out, the text messages weren't an isolated case. Similar accounts started to pour in, strongly suggesting that a new system had been rolled-out without so much as a peep from the Saudi authorities. It now appears that every guardian whose dependent has a passport is receiving a text after cross border crossings.
In response, the Ministry of the Interior has denied the allegations, saying it's not intended to connect women with their guardians. And according to the Riyadh Bureau, the system has been in place since 2010, but now the service works without having to register with the ministry. It claims that the system is part of a larger e-Government plan to use technology in order to facilitate access to its services — such as electronic travel permits (thus replacing the need for "yellow slips").
Pathetic. Women being treated as second-class citizens in any 21st century nation is an outrage, and should be criticized and denounced regardless of culture or heritage. Gender rights are one of those bridges we need to build, even at the cost of destroying anachronistic traditions.
Whenever any ideology proposes that some people should be discriminated against simply because they were born differently, that ideology needs to go. And if necessary, the hard way.
Till the next post, then.