Friday, February 8, 2013

Saudi Arabia: Sweeping Injustices

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          Human rights injustices occur frequently in Saudi Arabia, particularly involving dissidents and women. In the past year, following the Arab uprisings, there have been increasing amounts of protest and dissent against the religion, politics, and cultural norms of Saudi Arabia. In 2012, thousands of people have been imprisoned for expressing their personal beliefs and critical opinions about the cultural norms of their society. The article states, “the Saudi government has gone to considerable lengths to punish, intimidate, and harass those who express opinions that deviate from the official line." In the cases mentioned in the article, some people faced imprisonment or even the death penalty for merely posting a tweet about reform or blogging about religious debates. This is very hard to imagine, especially for people like us who have the freedom to say or believe whatever we want. It must be difficult to express oneself and impact change in Saudi Arabia, especially if he/she is subjected to punishment if one's beliefs don't agree with the expected customs. Even if they want to fight for change or for more rights, the fear of punishment prevents them from doing so.  
            Another group of people that faces injustices are the women of Saudi Arabia. In some countries today, males are still socially accepted to be more dominant than females.  There is gender segregation in work places and women are not allowed to associate themselves with men. The education quality and the opportunities available are unequal for each gender. Also, there is a guardianship system in Saudi Arabia. If a woman wants to conduct business or travel, she must first get permission from her male guardian. Gender discrimination is a significant issue of human rights, particularly in middle eastern countries. Every person should be allowed to have equal opportunities and make one's own decisions, no matter what his/her gender is. The guardianship system is surprising to hear about; it seems almost as though female adults are viewed to be treated like children.
            When comparing life in America to life in Saudi Arabia, there is a drastic contrast in terms of human rights. We have the freedom to freely express our thoughts and choose our beliefs. Also, every person, no matter what race or gender, has equal opportunities for education and work. Growing up in America, it is very difficult to try to understand what the people in Saudi Arabia are experiencing.  Through our class and through the reading of Persepolis (a novel about similar injustices in Iran), I hope that we can get a more detailed grasp about the violations of human rights in the middle east. By learning more and raising awareness about the injustices, we may be able to find ways in which we can make an impact in those areas. 

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