The enslavement of Saudi women

There’s an old American folk song, “The Wagoner’s Lad,” which begins with this verse:

Oh hard is the fortune of all womankind
They’re always controlled, they’re always confined;
Controlled by their parents until they are wives
Then slaves to their husbands for the rest of their lives.

It’s a heartbreaking song with a beautiful tune (I first heard it in the Kingston Trio’s version), but, thank Ceiling Cat, life has changed since that song was written on the American frontier. Well, it has in America, but the verse above exactly describes life in Saudi Arabia.

That country is our ally, and yet we don’t protest when they treat their women like chattel, which in fact is exactly what they are under law. It’s hard for us to change things there, but social media can help—if only to let us know how desperate many of these women are.

There’s a new Twitter site, #stopenslavingsaudiwomen, designed to allow Saudi women to post anonymously about their situation, which, as we know, isn’t conducive to happiness.

Some of the messages are heartbreaking, and you should go see for yourself. (The Sister Hood site mentioned below also explains in brief the many ways the country subjugates and infantilizes women through the odious institution of “male guardianship”).

Nearly all the women posting from inside the country are both anonymous and have their faces covered, which itself tells you what things are like there. I’ll post a few messages and then the site’s video. (Some of the messages are reposted by “Isaac Cohen,” obviously a conduit for these women.)

Meanwhile, the site Sister Hood has posted what it calls “the first English language video created by women inside Saudi for their ‪#‎StopEnslavingSaudiWomen‬ campaign.”

h/t: Grania


  1. Cindy
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of enslavement…and rather than spamming your inbox…I will just leave this here:

    A high-profile imam has urged the Danish government to accept child brides, as the practice is part of the culture of many refugees arriving in the country. It follows an announcement by Denmark that such couples will be separated under Danish law.

    This link is from ‘Russia Today’, which I have heard is a rag in the style of the Daily Mail, in which case any readers from Denmark might be willing to check the original source?

    • charlize
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      As if “rags in the style of the Daily Mail” would have to make an effort to make standard issue Islamic depravity look any worse than it is in reality.

      • somer
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Saudi is particularly awful and not a jot of modern (at least western influenced) secular law to moderate it tho in most Muslim countries the secular law makes a lot of concessions to Islam. They are particularly obsessed with permission of male relatives for everything.

        I once read an article on beating the wife from a religious scholar at King Saud military college. It said its wrong to hurt her in the beating and only beat her if she’s being irreligious (including disobedient) but if she should happen to die from the beating well obviously it was god’s will

        I saw what looked like a child in long muslim robes doing shopping with a much larger man recently. He was talking to her gruffly. I suppose they just say its the neice or its their younger sister or whatever. Keysar trad the Australian Mufti’s muslim spokesman has endorsed stoning for adultery, said homosexual should be imprisoned etc off the non muslim record – and lost a court case when a journalist exposed it. (He’s lebanese muslim I think born in Lebanon) He wrote sophisticated articles arguing that sharia is nothing like whats practised in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and suggesting we should do as UK has done and recognise Muslim polygamy.

        The Hideya Guide to the Islamic Laws which is the supposedly moderates school of Hanifa says the master has a religious right to sex with the wife and with the female slave/s at any time except when fasting during the day (e.g. for Ramadan) or menstruating. So does guidance of the traveller. After the dowry is paid the husband “can if he please enjoy her by force” The Hideya is still used today in South Asia (including Indis) for muslim marital law. The wife may not get a divorce even if the husband is infertile lest she use this as an excuse because she might just be trying to escape the obligations of marriage where its stated that she must be “as a servant” and the husband is “the person served” if the master wants to marry his slave he must first free her only because, it says, you can’t have double forms of servitude. The Guidance of the Traveller (Sy’afi or Shaafi school) is less detailed but as bad. In the Hidaya the woman must not go more than 11 miles away on her own without a male relative. The reliance is more restrictive

        • somer
          Posted August 9, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          whoops “including Indis” should read “including India”

    • somer
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Cindy I just found this in article by Maajid Nawaz no less in the Daily Beast
      It explicitly mentions the Danish Imam calling for child marriage
      Maajid also says
      “In a move that can only ever go down in history as incredibly regressive, a municipality in the Swedish city of Malmo decided to approve underage “child marriage” among refugees.”

      We are almost the only species that bashes women regularly to acclimatise them to the wants (esp sex) of the husband. Women are socialised to think they deserve it for being “selfish” such as not cooking well enough or on time or being obedient enough etc. Women are much more valued in the west partly because they are needed economically and the work doesnt require physical strength but also because of the biological breakthroughs re infant/young child death not least due to vaccinations, clean water etc. In other parts of the world this comes with a cultural or quasi religious justification for women being supposedly inferior

      Im a feminist first and last, I wont put another cause first to let millions of years of second and third class status be perpetuated into the future when the biological causes of it in this evil old world recently no longer apply (i.e. very high infant mortality ages 0-5 necessitating high birth rate, lack of reliable contraception, and to lesser extent but still very important technological abilities re food etc)

      • Cindy
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        Maajid Nawaz just tweeted this:

        And I am also a feminist first. Those third wave feminists who worry more about elevators than the enslavement of Saudi women can go to hell as far as I am concerned.

        • rickflick
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          “Those third wave feminists who worry more about elevators…”

          Excellent point. While elevators are important (especially to a blogger who experienced the thick layer of “creepy”), the priorities are critical.

    • somer
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      Hi Cindy
      Its from an article by the wonderful Maajid Nawaz in the Daily Beast
      He mentions the Danish Imam calling for recognition of child marriage. he also says
      “In a move that can only ever go down in history as incredibly regressive, a municipality in the Swedish city of Malmo decided to approve underage “child marriage” among refugees.” They subsequently rescinded the decision.

      • Cindy
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        Oh right..

        hey, didn’t PCC write about that last week?

        Honestly, there is just *so* much f’d up stuff about Islam in the news that I am having trouble keeping track!

        • somer
          Posted August 9, 2016 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think theres an article on this site about it as far as i can see from quick search various keywords – at least not about this thing recently.
          Yes theres a whirl of stuff on now!

    • Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      I can’t do the check, but that’s funny in a weird sort of way, since Russia is one of the countries said to be a *source* for “mail order bride” services.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a newer song, “Amazons,” by American folk artist Phranc. It seems a fitting tune of women’s empowerment to send out to the Saudi women during this Olympic season:

  3. Posted August 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink


  4. Alpha Neil
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I feel helpless. But I take some solace in knowing that there are some voices starting to call out from the darkness. I hope they only get louder and those who can actually do something about this hear them.

  5. nicky
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    It is despicable. And our complicity (for oil, nogal) is nearly equally despicable.

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      We are complicit in the enslavement of Saudi women and are nearly equally despicable as the slaveholders themselves because we import oil from them?

      That’s quite an accusation, nicky.

      • somer
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        The regime are suffering from the cut in our oil use and the lower oil price (e.g. US using more shale oil, oil price held low also to penalise Russian oil). The Wahabbis have controlled the peninsular since the early 19th C
        Admittedly from the dreaded HuffPo, Alastair Crooke. And the Saudi royals allied with Wahabbism very early on.

      • nicky
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Yes, quite an accusation, I agree, but I stand by it.
        Our addiction to oil made them rich and powerful. They are our ‘allies’, we won’t go against them. In my books that is called complicity.
        We *know* they treat women like chattel, we *know* they fund fundamentalist madrassas the world over, yet we did hardly anything to get rid of oil as the engine of our wealth and civilisation.
        As said earlier, if only a fraction of the dozens of trillions spent on the Iraq war had been spent on serious alternative energy sources, not just for the US, but the world, we would be in a better position to counter these crimes.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Having maybe just had an approach for work from Saudi … Yep. Complicit. And if I want to continue being able to pay for the mortgage and the wife’s car, taking the work at 50% wages and not rocking the camel.
      Dangerous though. As an atheist I’ll have the death penalty over my head every day for 6 months on and 6 weeks off. But you get used to risk at work.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:30 am | Permalink

        6 *months* on and 6 *weeks* off? Is that a misprint?

        I can’t point the finger at you. I drive a car that uses oil, from whatever source.


        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          No misprint. No details confirmed.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 12, 2016 at 12:27 am | Permalink

            Better be bloody good wages, then.


            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted August 12, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

              Down by over a half compared to my last project.

    • somer
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      From a doco filmed covertly inside Saudi the cut in the oil price is mainly hurting ordinary Saudis.

  6. rickflick
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if, given we will have a female president, she will not make more of this important issue?

    • Cindy
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Probably not, since KSA has donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, along with other Gulf states.

      • somer
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Hilary seems to be partial to big money (though goodness knows Trump the Narcissist would be a dangerous disaster)

        Ali Rizvi last year in interview with Joe Rogan described how the I think niece of the current royal prince has been house imprisoned and deprived to the extent their dog (haram of course) died of starvation.

        The Saudis do a great line in oppressing women whether they are wives, relatives and unfortunate female servants who they treat like slaves (PS this is nasty might just want to look at summary in intro to video)
        Ethiopian servant Beaten by Saudi family

      • rickflick
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        *arches eyebrow*

  7. darrelle
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink


  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    One thing to ponder concerning a few women right here in America. There are some who are nothing more than slaves to their husbands. You may know of some, maybe not but they are out there. It might be called a willing slave but I am not sure. I have seen it.

    I do not mean necessarily these guys who beat their wives, although there are plenty of them. I mean long term marriages where the woman pretty much just takes orders from the guy and that is about it.

    • chris moffatt
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      You mean like ‘quiverfull’ practitioners or duck dynasty types? Ah well no R2P for them or for KSA women. Sandra Powers is too busy promoting the bombing of syrian children to be concerned about such things.

    • chris moffatt
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Stupid fingers ignoring the brain again – that’s Samantha not Sandra

  9. Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  10. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    ‘Some of the messages are reposted by “Isaac Cohen,” ‘

    My irony meter just twitched. That’ll cut a lot of ice in Saudi Arabia.


  11. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    This is a late message to say how lovely The Wagoner’s Lad is. Jerry – the music you link to is often excellent.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] via The enslavement of Saudi women — Why Evolution Is True […]

  2. […] via The enslavement of Saudi women — Why Evolution Is True […]

%d bloggers like this: