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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Saudi Arabia Restricts The Rights Of Women, Now Everyone Pretend To Look Surprised

Saudi Arabia has a reputation as being one of the most repressive nations in human history as far as women are considered, with the vast majority relegated to lives of existence under black sheets, bought and sold like loaves of bread. The world view of Saudi has not gone unnoticed by their officials, so they've vowed to make some changes in order to encourage Saudi companies to employ women. However, just in case ladies werefeeling all liberated, the governing bodies made sure to let the females know where they are and are not permitted in the 'new' Saudi Arabia.

 Saudi Labour Minister Adel Fakeih unveiled the new regulations, which included a detailed list in which female Saudis were not permitted to work. It should be noted that female foreigners are not subject to the restrictions, but they are also not counted toward the quota, or Nitaqat. The jobs exclude anything involving physical labour, like construction work (this lady roofer would be a no-go), mining, machine repair and/or cleaning, and coal production. Additionally, the 'generating, transporting, or transforming' of energy,  metal refinery, applying silver to mirrors, melting glass, and anything that involves climbing ladders are among the many tasks still out of reach of Saudi women.

  The labour minister explains their position this way: These decisions are not meant to change our customs or traditions," the minister said. "The Saudi woman has every right to work. We are only implementing regulations that will protect her and ensure her rights." In other words, as long as men still have control over women and reserve the right to dictate her liberties, they're all for it. Oddly, lingerie shops have always been staffed by men (!), but women may soon be permitted to take jobs in them.

  An interesting fact is that while women have all of these job restrictions, but will be allowed to own companies in said fields, but outside of inheriting, it would be a tough prospect since women are prohibited from studying the required fields to gain knowledge of things like oil refining, for example. Nadiya Khalife of Human Rights Watch Beirut explains:  "Women are still banned from certain subjects, or there are situations where they would be restricted later on in that field. It’s a really big problem, especially with the Saudi economy looking to grow; you are restricting that potential workforce.

  The new push for women to work is due to the nation's attempts to rely on fewer foreign workers and to reward companies that hire the most Saudis. They have instituted a system indicating red, yellow, and green flags rating employers on adherence to the new Saudisation system. Red flag companies, which are those with less than 3% Saudi women, have until mid-November to obtain the correct ratio or open their chequebooks. 

  Interestingly, only women between 20 and 35 will be counted against the quota, and these women must be registered with General Organisation for Social Insurance. Additionally, they must be full-time employees. 

  One issue is that there are so many banned categories that some may not be able to fill spots. You see, 21% of the workforce in Saudi is industrial and that percentage is growing. Add in their booming construction trades and even retail ones that might involve that prohibited ladder-climbing thing, and you may simply not have enough women to fit the numbers in some divisions and too many in others. Moreover, since women can't be in the company of unrelated men without a chaperone, this could get super-tricky. Do companies have special staff on board to ensure that Abdul in Tech Support doesn't stare too long at Sharbat in Sales' ankle while fixing her computer?

  I guarantee you that the only reason why Saudi Arabia is considering allowing more women to work is to look good on the world stage, which would be fine and dandy if they actually would have women working. It's smoke and mirrors, folks. Saudi Arabia has no intent to join our century, or even the previous three. The religious police do not want women driving, so they can't get to work even if they qualify for one of the few positions. additionally, most women are the property of some caveman by 20, 25 at the most. The list of restrictions just proves how scared these insecure jerks are of a woman showing them up. 

  Sorry Saudi, but claiming to encourage women's progress whilst handing down rulings that further constrain women's right to choice of fields is hypocritical. Expecting the world, or even Saudi women, to believe it is absurd. Manhandling a group's liberties in the name of protection is not only ridiculous, it's wrong. 

  You can call a cat a dog, but don't expect it to bark. Oppression by any other name is still the same.


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