Saudi King to let women vote and hold certain offices 10 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 7 years ago

Saudi Arabia gives women right to vote | World news | guardian.co.uk

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has said women will have the right to stand and vote in future local elections and join the advisory Shura council as full members.

"Because we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulama [clerics] and others … to involve women in the Shura council as members, starting from the next term," Abdullah, 87, said in a speech.

"Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote," he added.

Liberal activists in the country have long called for greater rights for women, who are barred from travelling, working or having medical operations without the permission of a male relative and are forbidden from driving.

The changes will come after elections on Thursday, in which women are barred from voting or standing for office.

"This is great news," said Wajeha al-Huwaider, a Saudi writer and women's rights activist. "Women's voices will finally be heard.

"Now it is time to remove other barriers like not allowing women to drive cars and not being able to function, to live a normal life without male guardians."

The king did not address the issue of women being allowed to drive. Although there is no written law against women driving, they are not issued licences, effectively banning the practice. A campaign this summer by women who broke Saudi law by driving on the kingdom's city streets prompted some arrests.

Women in Saudi Arabia must also have written approval from a male guardian - a father, husband, brother or son - to leave the country, work or even undergo certain medical operations.

Activists in the country have long called for greater rights for women. Ruled by an absolute monarchy supported by conservative Wahhabi clerics, Saudi Arabia is a conservative country where religious police patrol the streets to ensure public segregation between men and women.

King Abdullah has long been pushing cautious political reforms, but in a country where conservative clerics and senior members of the ruling family oppose even minor changes, liberalisation has been very gradual.

Despite calls on social media for widespread protests in Saudi Arabia during the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests in the Middle East and north Africa, the only noteworthy demonstrations were confined to the country's east, which is home to the country's Shia minority.

Saudi Arabia will hold only its second nationwide elections in recent memory on Thursday for seats on local councils, but critics of the ruling al-Saud family say the poll, in which voting is limited to men, is a charade.

Supporters of the absolute monarchy say the elections are designed to give Saudis a greater say in politics, but critics point out that the elections are for only half the seats on councils that have few powers.

The Shura council, which vets legislation but cannot veto it or enforce changes, is fully appointed by the king.

"Despite the issue of the effectiveness of these councils, women's involvement in them was necessary. Maybe after women join there will be other changes," said Naila Attar, who organised the Baladi (Arabic for My Country) campaign calling for women's involvement in the local council elections.

"I believe this is a step to involve women in the public sphere. It is the top of the pyramid and a step in the direction for more decisions regarding women."

Unfortunately though, women will still not be able to drive or do other things in the state, so Womens' rights still has a very long way to go in Saudi Arabia. Never mind that politically the system of the Saudi Kingdom is mostly rigged in favor of the royal family and their interests, so even if they are able to run for office they will only be able to do so if they are handpicked by the family.




Warborg

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#2 7 years ago

Sounds like they are a little scared of all the uprising in that area and want to loosen things up some.




Fyurii

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#3 7 years ago
Warborg;5564472Sounds like they are a little scared of all the uprising in that area and want to loosen things up some.

Or by the more politically correct name -> Progress!

Let's face it, these kinds of changes (no matter how small they appear) most often come about because of either violence, or the potential for violence to happen.

Considering what it's taken to get this far I'd say keep this kind of thing at a cautious pace, so as to avoid/minimise any vocal outcry from the more zealous & backward thinking twits. Too fast and they might just find a way to swing things back by a century or two.

At the end of the day though, it is certainly good news.




Commissar MercZ

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#4 7 years ago

Warborg;5564472Sounds like they are a little scared of all the uprising in that area and want to loosen things up some.[/QUOTE]

No, I don't think it's that simple. They had an uprising threat in fact earlier this year in its northeastern sections near the Kuwaiti border- and they had to deploy police there too. The way the kingdom ended that was to redirect some of the profits to the royal family back to relief and safety nets that go to the citizens.

I think it's more for the kingdom to claim that their state is recognizing rights and put on a false image. I think more so since a lot of people have correctly pointed out that Saudi Arabia is actually a more 'hard line' and religious state than say, Iran, but it doesn't receive the same kind of scrutiny or attention from foreign governments.

Still, the essential structure of the monarchy is left in place- the one that benefits members of the royal family and their business partners.

[QUOTE=Fyurii;5564530] Considering what it's taken to get this far I'd say keep this kind of thing at a cautious pace, so as to avoid/minimise any vocal outcry from the more zealous & backward thinking twits.

The king comes from the same group of "zealous & backward thinking twits" that kept this in place for years, and I don't think who you are thinking of would pose a significant problem to this.

However this doesn't mean there's still a ways to go or much to be desired. Women in 'western' states got suffrage during different points at the turn of the century, but arguably there was still a ways to go- and still is- in regards to the role of women in society.




emonkies

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#5 7 years ago

"And in our follow up story woman caught driving was sentenced to ten lashes"

Not joking.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/09/27/saudi-woman-to-receive-10-lashes-for-driving-car/




Keyser_Soze

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#6 7 years ago

Anlushac11;5565534"And in our follow up story woman caught driving was sentenced to ten lashes"

Not joking.

Saudi Woman To Receive 10 Lashes For Driving Car | Fox News

"And was subsequently revoked by the king". BBC News - Saudi woman driver's lashing 'overturned by king'

Saudi Arabia's system disgusts me but hopefully this'll lead to something better. It's a vast improvement.




Fyurii

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#7 7 years ago
Commissar MercZ;5564822The king comes from the same group of "zealous & backward thinking twits" that kept this in place for years, and I don't think who you are thinking of would pose a significant problem to this.

I wasn't thinking of anyone/any group in particular, rather the general collective of backward thinking zealous twits who oppose whatever they perceive as a threat to "the natural order".

However this doesn't mean there's still a ways to go or much to be desired. Women in 'western' states got suffrage during different points at the turn of the century, but arguably there was still a ways to go- and still is- in regards to the role of women in society.

I know that there's still a large gap between women's rights and men's rights in practice, most notable in salaries of typically high paid positions. (The pedant in me has failed to resist pointing out that it was turn of the last century:()

Honestly though, (here's where I sound like a racist misogynist twat) "equal rights" only extends toward the disabled, women, transgendered, and men and women of non-white ethnicities in the western world, because it's easier for them to pursue a legal case of discrimination on the grounds of gender/ethnic bias if they want to "play that card", which pretty much undermines the whole point (and people's belief in) laws against discrimination. In an ideal world, equal rights would truly be equal.




emonkies

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#8 7 years ago

Cool, glad to see it was revoked. There is still hope.




Admiral Donutz VIP Member

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#9 7 years ago

Atleast it's a start, even if it may just be a token gesture... It may lead to the path of women voting rights in national elections and thus eventually also all other kinds of rights that are currently withholded from them.




Red Menace

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#10 7 years ago

Saudi elections are a joke anyways, I'm surprised they didn't let women join the charade earlier for brownie points with the West. Now, when the Saudi's let them drive cars, that will be something interesting.


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