It sound like a joke, but once again the United Nations has managed to do something that is quite frankly so bizarre it can potentially be grasped as some sort of prank. Previously, the U.N. have already managed to find the one nation on the planet that has the absolute worst human rights record, and in effect appointed the poacher to be the gamekeeper. To be specific regarding that …
Their track record for human rights is utterly appalling in so many different ways and is perhaps the very worst on the planet, to be specific …
… and then proceeded to elect them into membership of the U.N. Human Rights council.
You would think that it would be almost impossible to top that with something even more absurd, but apparently the U.N. has been quite willing to take such criticism as a challenge, and so it has now achieved exactly that.
The latest appointment
UN watch reports on this latest move …
The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch condemned the U.N.’s election of Saudi Arabia, “the world’s most misogynistic regime,” to a 2018-2022 term on its Commission on the Status of Women, the U.N. agency “exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer. “It’s absurd. “Saudi women,” said Neuer, “must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death, and Saudi Arabia bans women from driving cars.”
The vote itself is reported within a U.N. press release as follows …
Commission on the Status of Women:The Council elected by secret ballot 13 members to four-year terms,beginning at the first meeting of the Commission’s sixty-third session in 2018 and expiring at the close of the sixty-sixth session in 2022: Algeria, Comoros, Congo, Ghana and Kenya (African States); Iraq, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan (Asia-Pacific States); and Ecuador, Haiti and Nicaragua (Latin American and Caribbean States).
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) April 24, 2017
A Few Background Facts
Below is a picture of a meeting that took place in Saudi Arabia on the topic of Woman in Society back in 2015. Note that exactly zero women are attending.
This is an illustration of just how farcical this latest appointment actually is.
So how do things actually stand in Saudi Arable for Women?
The Wikipedia page covers it all in great detail. Here are a few key extracts.
Under Saudi law, all females must have a male guardian (wali), typically a father, brother, husband or uncle (mahram). Girls and women are forbidden from traveling, conducting official business, or undergoing certain medical procedures without permission from their male guardians.
… Some examples of the importance of permission are:
- In July 2013, King Fahd hospital in Al Bahah postponed amputating a critically injured woman’s hand because she had no male legal guardian to authorize the procedure. Her husband had died in the same car crash that left her and her daughter critically injured.
- In August 2005, a court in the northern part of Saudi Arabia ordered the divorce of a 34-year-old mother of two (named Fatima Mansour) from her husband, Mansur, even though they were happily married and her father (now deceased) had approved the marriage. The divorce was initiated by her half-brother using his powers as her male guardian, who alleged that his half-sister’s husband was from a tribe of a low status compared to the status of her tribe and that the husband had failed to disclose this when he first asked for Fatima’s hand. If sent back to her brother’s home, Fatima feared domestic violence. She spent four years in jail with her daughter
Employment for women has a number of restrictions under Saudi law and culture. According to the Saudi Labor Minister Dr. Ghazi Al-Qusaibi (speaking in 2006):
“the [Labor] Ministry is not acting to [promote] women’s employment since the best place for a woman to serve is in her own home.
The quality of education is lower for females than males. Curricula and textbooks are updated less frequently, and teachers tend to be less qualified. At the higher levels, males have better research facilities.
The above are perhaps familiar and well-known issues, and yet it only scratches the surface, I’ve not even mentioned the mandatory dress code. The key point to grasp is this – Human Rights are Women’s Rights, and Womens rights are Human Rights is an utterly alien concept in Saudi Arabia.
Impact of this appointment
Saudi Arabia now gets to vote on the following resolutions and initiatives …
- Elimination of discrimination against women
- Equal participation [of women] in political and public affairs
- Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice
- Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
- Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women
- The right to a nationality: women’s equal nationality rights in law and in practice
- Addressing the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls
- Annual full day debate on women’s rights
- Annual half-day panel on the integration of a gender perspective
This latest appointment is quite frankly akin to appointing a child molester to run the local daycare nursery, it really is that crass and repugnant.