The Blog

A Saudi Protest March

Demonstrators march for women's rights in front of the Saudi embassy. It's a start.

11:00 PM, Nov 14, 2004 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Women are banned even from leaving their houses without consent of their "guardian," who can compel public agencies to dismiss them from employment, and can appropriate a woman's name for financial purposes. The "guardian" can even "loan" the woman's name to another person. Saudi men can divorce and remarry without informing their wives of such facts, and while Saudi women have the right to divorce their husbands, they automatically forfeit custody of all children above the age of six if they do so. As al-Khalaf writes, "Requiring permission from a male guardian is not Islamic law. It is Saudi law."

Saturday's protest may have been the first baby step towards increasing U.S. pressure on the House of Saud to change.

Stephen Schwartz is the author of The Two Faces of Islam.