As a teenager one
of my favourite movies was Logan’s Run, a science
fiction spectacular starring Michael York as Logan
5, Jenny Agutter (as Jessica 6, and deliciously
naked in the movie as well!) and Farrah Fawcett (of Charlie’s
Angels fame). The more time I spend in Saudi Arabia
the more similarities and parallels I see to the
world inhabited within Logan’s Run.
‘utopian society’ exists, where the ruling governors
wish you not to see the outside world, a place
called Sanctuary. Only bad things exist outside of
‘our little society’ and you will be punished for
trying to escape our borders if you try and seek
Sanctuary. You must do everything we tell you, or
else. We know best.
Let’s take a look
at a few examples of the draconian state of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
Women are not allowed to drive. Not a bad thing
the male readers amongst you may suggest, but
given my experience of male drivers then I would
love to see women drive over here. They
certainly can’t be any worse than their male
order to gain employment, women need to have the
permission of their male guardian – father,
husband, son, uncle, etc. Yes, you read
correctly – son. So a single mother with no
relatives and a young son would need to get his
written permission in order to work.
same principle applies if a woman wants to leave
the country. Permission has to be granted from a
marriages are arranged, between close families
and friends. Obviously where the female wears a
veil, or niqāb, the bridegroom may not even ‘see’ his
bride until they’re married. Often the bride has
a value and can be used to pay debts.
for a Saudi to marry a non-Saudi then perish the
thought! Government permission has to be sought
before this can take place.
extreme cases of marriage involve young girls
and old men. The cases of girls yet to reach
even the age of ten being married to men in
their 60’s and 70’s is unfortunately not too
unusual. The ones typically reported in the Arab
News are where the mother of the young girl is
kept in the dark about the marriage and has to
appeal to the courts for it to be annulled.
Sometimes the court does annul it, sometimes it
A recent case was of an 8 year old girl
married-off to a man in his 50’s – to pay a
debt. The father of the girl said the man had
agreed not to consummate the marriage until she
turned 18. The husband actually states that he
will wait until she reaches puberty. A local
court has so far refused to annul the marriage.
of the most concerning aspects of this way of
life that I read about all too often in the Arab
News (if item #6 above wasn’t bad enough) is
that of abuse. Physical, mental and sexual abuse
by men of their wives and children goes on
largely unreported. Most women and children put
up with it as it is ‘part of life’, part of
being a Saudi.
Take this example as a reason why – a woman is
being physically and sexually abused by her
husband. If she went to a police station to
report this crime she would need the permission
of her husband to press charges – against him!
And how many husbands are going to do that?
lest not forget, no mingling between strange men
and women – remember they have separate dining
areas for singles and families. I still don’t
understand where that leaves the male waiters
who have to serve these females. Obviously the
females have to remove the
niqāb whilst they are
eating – so surely this is a totally corrupting
sight for the waiters!
Public demonstrations are banned, and don’t even
think about going on strike.
You can go to a
cinema, concerts are not allowed; praying is
their main form of 'entertainment'
As you can see from
much of the above,
males rule what happens here. Women need permission
to do almost anything at all; their prime
responsibilities appear to be looking after the home
and bearing children – and not to ‘have a life’; and
if they do go outside, stay covered up so as not to
tempt the Saudi male into forbidden thoughts.
‘encouraged’ to wear a
niqāb, not to mingle with
members of the opposite sex, and heaven forbid
should they (or men for that matter) have feelings
for someone of the same sex! Remember, you face the
death penalty for being gay.
Many of the
practices in Saudi Arabia lie in the dark ages, and
once the oil runs out then the country has the
chance to return there. It talks much about
attracting tourists, yet the difficulties of
obtaining visas and then the strictness of the local
customs, means that this country will never become the next
Dubai. Unless, of course, there is a young Logan 5
and Jessica 6 out there, willing to take a chance,
willing to take a stand in order to break out of the
current bubble that Saudi Arabia resides in. I’m not
holding my breath. It makes me ever more proud to be
British and grateful to live in a 'free' world.