The following are excerpts from some of the articles:
Preachers Spread Distorted Notions About Women
Columnist Dr. Hasna Al-Quna'ir wrote in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh: "Women are victims of [the preachers'] discourse... [which is intended to] condemn them and to prove them inferior [to men] in their piety and in their mental [abilities], [based on] a shameless distortion of the Prophet's hadith...
"Our TV channels are full of old and new preachers who convey their views directly to the public... Answering [viewers' questions], they burst with accusations against members of the [female] sex. They excite the viewers' emotions, entreating them to defend the virtues that the women corrupt...
"An example is the answer given by one of the preachers [to a viewer who asked] about consulting with his wife and seeking her advice. [The preacher told him]: Do not consult with her, for she is emotional and her opinions are not valid... As evidence, he cited the Prophet's hadith [which says]: 'a tribe that nominates a woman [as leader] will not succeed'... Many preachers refuse to acknowledge that this hadith... was uttered in [specific] historical circumstances and in a particular context. The Prophet never meant it as a ruling that applies to all women, in every place and at all times...
"Another preacher incited fathers, brothers and husbands against their daughters, sisters and wives, saying that a girl who is not beaten from an early age grows up to be a rebellious woman, difficult to control... This preacher [also] said that a woman who leaves her home without a veil is like [a woman] who goes out naked. He warned the Muslim women against wearing their abayas [a long gown] around their shoulders [instead of covering their heads as well], saying that this was the main reason that women are seduced and fall [into sin]... There was [a preacher] who warned women against shaking a man's hand, saying that, according to one of the sheiks, a woman who shakes the hand of a man that is not her husband is guilty of... 'adultery of the hand'...
"The question is why some Muslims have [developed] this dehumanizing view of women, which does not respect [the women's] humanity and honor. [This situation] stems from disregarding important factors... such as the historical circumstances and the specific context which formed the background for some of the religious laws and rules that [discriminate] against women. It also stems from the failure to distinguish between religious duties pertaining to rituals - which may be subject to absolute principles - and rules of behavior, which are controversial and are not subject to absolute laws, such as [the custom of] covering the face...
"This is what led to these distorted views and to the [development] of rigid thought patterns regarding women which are not open to debate, and which are accepted by the followers and students [of these preachers] who endorse extremist views. The woman is the victim of this insular culture, and her only salvation would be a reorganization of the cultural structure of [our] entire society." 
Saudi Women Are Subject to Countless Prohibitions
Saudi columnist Fatima Al-Faqih examined the question of discrimination against women, trying to assess it in a detailed and objective manner. She wrote in the Saudi daily Al-Watan:
"Are Saudi women actually deprived [of their rights]? [They] are forbidden to drive, forbidden to travel without permission, forbidden to stay alone at a hotel without permission, forbidden to name their own children without [a man's] consent... forbidden to take out a passport without permission... forbidden to leave their homes without permission... forbidden to take a job without permission... forbidden to change the color of their abayas, forbidden to go to school or to the university without permission... forbidden to purchase shares or to open to a [bank] account in their children's name without permission.
"[A woman] is not allowed to expose her face in some cities of the kingdom... [She] is not allowed to marry without permission... not allowed to stay married if [one of] her male relatives decides that her husband's [tribal] lineage is inferior to hers... not allowed to sue for divorce without apologizing and paying a fine, not allowed to keep her children after the divorce, unless she gets permission... not allowed to hold a senior position in the private or public sectors, not allowed to vote or run for office... not allowed to travel alone with a chauffeur... not allowed to annoy her husband, and finally, a woman's voice is considered [a form of] defilement, and she is forbidden to speak in public, so that her affairs will remain shrouded in secrecy.
"A researcher [studying the limitations on women] would [probably] stop here, since the list is endless, and since he would conclude that whoever doubts the [injustice] inflicted on women either lacks awareness or derives some benefit from the discrimination. The damage [caused by this discrimination] is obvious, and the solution has been delayed, causing the problem to grow [even] more severe. There is need for immediate intervention in order to stop the deterioration." 
A Saudi Woman Lives in Constant Fear
Columnist Dr. Maha Al-Hujailan criticized the norms of Saudi society, where a woman must live in constant fear that her husband may take another wife. In an Al-Watan article titled "the Intimidation of Women in Our Society," she wrote: "Our culture rests on several basic values of family life, including the assumption that a women must live in constant fear of a man. This is especially true when she gets married, since she must constantly suffer mental and psychological anguish, fearing that her husband may take another wife.
"According to [our] culture, [only] a woman who lives in this sort of fear and anguish properly fulfills her role as wife, while a women who feels assured that her husband will not take another wife comes to disdain her husband and her family life...This culture causes a women to feel mentally and psychologically inferior, like a quarrelsome child who must be constantly supervised, intimidated and punished into performing her duties.
"In our culture, an exemplary, clever, and well-behaved woman is one who fulfils her duty out of the constant fear... that her husband will take another wife, since she is helpless [to prevent this]. [It is assumed that] if it weren't for this overt or covert threat, the woman would not behave herself.
"No doubt, it is [our] social reality that reinforced this notion and turned it into an accepted [norm] among men and women alike. Some women were raised in this culture, and [its norms] have become part of their mental and psychological baggage. Perhaps this [upbringing] has caused them to believe that a good man who respects them is nothing but a weak and unstable man... In their opinion, an ideal man is a violent one who humiliates his wife. This is the ideal upheld by the society in which they were raised." 
 Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), February 18, 2007.
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), February 2, 2007.
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), January 28, 2007.
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