Sample Argumentative Essay on Women’s Oppression in Saudi Arabia and Lack of Rights (Based on Princess by Jean Sasson)

Women’s oppression has a long history that demonstrated injustice, selfishness, as well as ignorance, that women have encountered in their survival in Saudi Arabia. In Princess, Jean Sasson has vividly expressed how Saudi laws have made women suffer tremendously in the hands of men who perceive them as properties, rather than fellow humans. The Shari’a laws have interfered with women’s human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as the punishments imposed by these laws are cruel and intimidating. Therefore, international interference is necessary to curb women’s oppression and reinstate their rights in Saudi Arabia.

Although the Koran advocates for modesty while dressing, many Saudi women still wear burqa to hide their faces and niqab to conceal their eyes. Saudi women are expected to wear black abaya dress to cover other clothes. Many Saudi women complain about wearing a black abaya due to its capacity to absorb heat, considering the hot climate of Saudi Arabia (North & Tripp, 2012). The fear of harsh punishment has compelled women to adhere to the rules of dressing.  Adultery is one of the most severe crimes that a woman can commit whose punishment ranges from flogging to stoning (Campo, 2009; Sasson, 2004).

Men in Saudi Arabia can do anything to their women without being questioned by the law. They can assault their women and go scot-free, as Saudi women are forbidden from giving testimonies in law courts. According to Mehta (2012), women are not allowed to give testimonies in criminal proceedings because they are perceived to be driven by emotions and they may interfere with the testimonies that they are supposed to give. They are considered forgetful; thus, their testimonies may be deemed as unreliable. Saudi Women are forced into unwanted marriages, despite the Islamic rule that offers females the right to make choices of marriage (Sasson, 2004). The kingdom is performing dismally in terms of gender parity, as it was ranked 127th in a total of 136 countries in 2013.

Until recently, Saudi Arabia was the only remaining state that restricted women from voting or standing for election. In addition, only 5% of Saudi women are in the paid workforce, making the country have the lowest representation globally (Oates, 2011). The Koran does not forbid women from driving, but in Saudi Arabia, women are not permitted to drive. If other countries, such as Kuwait, Egypt, and Turkey, are allowing women to drive, then the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should let its women enjoy the freedom of driving. While King Abdulla is dedicated in changing the plight of women in Saudi Arabia, ultra-conservative forces still have an influence in the kingdom, thus, enabling the old rules to persist in creating restrictions

To salvage the predicament of Saudi women, local, as well as international women’s groups, have been pushing the government make changes that would allow Saudi women to enjoy freedom, just like in other Muslim states. The US and EU (European Union) have raised their concern over civil rights in Saudi Arabia, and have endeavored to find solutions through engaging the UN human-rights agency into treaties (Alhargan, 2012). King Abdullah is giving Saudi women hope for a change. He has promised Saudi women that they would be allowed to vote in 2015 elections.

In conclusion, there is a need to eradicate oppression and infringement of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Women in Saudi Arabia are still encountering oppression and limitations of their rights through the current government. Although the Islamic laws have offers provisions on how women should conduct themselves, Saudi Arabia has chosen to remain rigid, especially on matters concerning women. However, there is hope under the reign of King Abdullah, who has already promised participation of women in the coming elections. International agencies that fight for human rights have engaged Saudi Arabia into negotiations that would curb women’s oppression and ensure that women are enjoying their rights.

 References

Alhargan, R. A. (2012). Saudi Arabia: Civil Rights and Local Actors. Middle East Policy, 19(1), 126-139. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4967.2012.00529.x

Campo, J. E. (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. New York, NY: Facts On File.

Mehta, V. (2012). Law, Police Investigation and Punishment for Women in Jean Sasson’s Works. Spectrum, 1(8).

North, P., & Tripp, H. (2012). Culture Shock! Saudi Arabia: A survival guide to customs and etiquette. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Editions.

Oates, L. (2011, Fall). Women Drive Change in Saudi Arabia. Herizons, 25, 7-8.

Sasson, J. (2004). Princes: A true story of life behind the veil in Saudi Arabia. London: Tranworld.