December 3, 2022


The Never-ending Labyrinth of Male Guardianship

3 min read

NAWAF Al-SABAH WRITES– Rahaf Al-Qunun captured worldwide consideration in the beginning of the yr as she sought to flee her allegedly abusive household.

Rahaf, who’s Arabian, barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport resort room to forestall Thai authorities from deporting her. She had been detained on the Bangkok airport whereas touring en path to Australia from Kuwait, the place she and her dad and mom had been vacationing.

The disaster gained worldwide consideration after Rahaf posted her pleas for assistance on Twitter, which finally garnered the eye of the UN Refugee Company (UNHCR), which took on her case.

The 18-year-old, who was later granted asylum in Canada, stated she needed to flee the bodily and psychological abuse of her household, which started when she was 16. She claimed that at one level, they beat her up as a result of she didn’t pray, and locked her in a home for six months as a result of she minimize her hair quick. There have been additionally threats of homicide if she selected to desert Islam. The Saudi teenager has since dropped her household title, now going by Rahaf Mohammed, since her household disowned her.

Whereas the UNHRC’s choice to take up her plea was commendable, extra must be achieved. Rahaf is only one of 1000’s of ladies struggling beneath the patriarchal guardianship system of Saudi Arabia. Male guardianship renders girls ‘authorized minors,’ as each girl must have one—father, uncle, brother, husband, or perhaps a son. With out their approval, a lady isn’t allowed to conduct official enterprise, journey, marry, or work.


Contemplate this: the Ministry of Social Affairs in Saudi reported 8,016 instances of psychological and bodily abuse of ladies. The variety of unreported instances is little doubt greater, as girls wrestle to report such abuse and shouldn’t have courtroom entry with out the consent of a male family member. Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s Nationwide Household Safety Program estimates that no less than 35 p.c of ladies have skilled abuse, normally by the hands of their authorized male guardians.

Rahaf’s case is a direct results of this technique. She got here near being deported again to her household as a result of she didn’t have the guardian’s permission to journey. And he or she is only one. Many who’ve tried talking out have suffered worse. Distinguished rights activist Samar Badawi, who says she was bodily abused by her father, was slapped with a disobedience order (by her father, after all), leading to 7 months in jail. Equally, activist Mariam al-Otabi was detained for 3 months because of the similar sort of cost by her allegedly abusive father.


Samar Badawi

Surprisingly, although–or perhaps not–a examine revealed in 2013 discovered that 90% of the 8,000 Saudi girls surveyed supported the guardianship system. In 2009 and 2013, the nation promised to abolish the system, solely to make minor changes as an alternative, “together with not requiring permission for girls to work and passing a legislation criminalizing home abuse,” the Human Rights Watch reported.

Rahaf’s revolt, one amid many tales, rekindled the combat towards the guardianship system. Regardless of an consciousness taking on Saudi, quite a few girls rights activists proceed to endure time in detention, unseen and unheard by the worldwide neighborhood.


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