Saudi Arabia Implementing Women's Rights Essay

1558 words - 6 pages


The debate over human rights rages on throughout the world, with the United Nations playing a critical role in the debate. That organization has largely been the group in charge of dictating to various nations what they can and cannot do in the human rights realm. Specifically, there have been a number of different international standards passed on how countries are to treat their women. Saudi Arabia has long been held up as an example of a culture that has not complied with these international human rights norms. They still largely discriminate against women in many ways, holding them out of business and making them answer to men before they can do most anything, including travel. Saudi Arabia has, however, provided education to its women, a strange contradiction to the country’s norms on the issue. It is clear that Saudi Arabia is a hold-out, but what is less clear is why. Through exploration of the country’s culture, one finds that a number of critical social and cultural factors keep Saudi Arabia from fulfilling its human rights duty in regard to women. INCORPORTAE THE QUESTION AND WHY IS IT WORTHY OF INVESTIGATION

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

The general Human Rights principles are laid out in a document presented as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was implemented for all nations by the United Nations on the December 10th, 1948. Contrary to popular belief, not all of these rights have been implemented in some nations, with a prime example being Saudi Arabia. Human rights are often perceived as limited and constrained to “western normative societies.” To this end, Human Rights Education philosopher Jagdish Gundara claims, “Nor must human rights education be perceived and constructed, as it so often is, in purely western terms and therefore liable to be rejected by others who assert Asian, Islamic or African values” (Gundara, 2000). Cultural and religion differences tend to influence the implementation of human rights in various countries.
In Saudi Arabia, there has always been a clear distinction between males and females, and no one dared to challenge the favoritism towards males while applying most of these laws. For example, article sixteen pr.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.” This is an excellent example of an article that has not been fully implemented in Saudi Arabia. Many argue that this is because the current legal system in the country is antithetical to some of the international standards passed by organizations like the United Nations. The foundation of the legal system in Saudi Arabia is Sharia law. Sharia law is the code of Islamic law derived from the teachings of the Qur’an and the prophet Muhammad. According to Sharia Law, Muslim adult women do not have the right to contract their own marriage; they...

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