Saudi Arabian Women Banned From Jogging In The Streets?

From Global Voices Online:

A street in Asir Province, Saudi Arabia, where many women liked to exercise has recently been shut off to female joggers, as it has been deemed unsafe by the Haia (Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice).

The Haia stated the reasons for its closure were that it is poorly lit and in an area known for its crime: therefore it was being shut to protect women.

And because the male blogger who goes by “Saudi Jeans” and who lives, according to his blog just “east of Saudi Arabia,” has broken it down perfectly, I give you his take:

You can say that this decision by Haia is part preemptive strike, part blaming the victim. Instead of watching these so-called unsafe areas and protect the women by arresting people who attempt to harass them, they go and prevent women from exercising there.

It seems, certainly, like a terrible injustice. Now women in Saudi Arabia who wish to exercise outside are being banned from an area deemed unsafe solely to them, while the government lets itself off the hook from investigating what’s going on and how to address it? That’s it?

Score 1 for the criminals and less than zero for Saudi Arabian women.

But Saudi Jeans notes that the idea that this one street is unsafe is a lie to begin with:

“…this was disputed by one jogger, R.S Al-Shahri, who claimed that the street was safe and well-lit, while almost 30 women would walk there between sunset and Isha prayers.”

Apparently, blocking women from exercising has been a hobby for the Saudi government, placing restrictions on exercise facilities for women in the past.

Read more at Global Voices Online.

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  • crowepps

    Excerpts – full article at link


    How the Dreyfus Affair Explains Sarkozy’s Burqa Ban


    Militant secularism has a long, troubled history in France, from paranoia over nun’s wimples to the Dreyfusard anti-Jesuit campaigns.


    Where will it end?


    BY RUTH HARRIS | MAY 12, 2010


    … Indeed, the debate has a long history in France and is not merely a product of the right, though Sarkozy’s opponents denounce it as a nakedly political attempt to attract anti-immigrant support. A powerful, and sometimes irrational, fear of religious influence — once Catholic, now Muslim — has long been a part of French society, through the anti-clerical campaigns of the 19th century and the anti-Jesuit paranoia of the Dreyfus affair. It’s impossible to understand the burqa debate without understanding the nature of the polemics that shaped it.


    Anti-clerical sentiment became a major force in French political life in the 18th century, when philosophers attacked the Catholic Church as an enemy of the Enlightenment and a supporter of the oppressive monarchical government. Many of the early debates centered around women’s bodies and freedoms, with religion depicted as attacking society’s weakest and most vulnerable members. In La Religieuse (The Nun), Denis Diderot’s 1796 novel, a young innocent, Suzanne, is unscrupulously pressed into taking the veil and then subjected to the sexual advances and moral perfidy of her superiors. In the work, the veil is a symbol of imprisonment, darkness, and unbridled, corrupt power. As historian Caroline Ford has shown, “forced claustration” became a legal cause célèbre in the 19th century, as lawyers denounced the loss of women’s “civil personality” when they entered convents.


    But there is no doubt that, just as the anti-clerical fury back then sometimes also targeted innocent Catholics, the focus on the full veil now heightens the polemical temperature by demonizing Muslims as oppressors of women. In their opposition to the veil, certain feminists have become allied to nationalism. Laïcité, which originated in a wish to defend French liberties from religious fanaticism, now risks undermining those liberties by criminalizing the tiny minority of Muslim women in France for what they wear.