The Journey of the Unsung Voices
by Erlinda J. Fronda @lynfronda23, INN, Philippines;
What if I was born in this country? Will I be growing up liking what my ancestors used to follow about the teachings of Islam? Will I be able to cope with their traditional custom and conservative traditions? Will I be able to get used wearing the long black loose dress called Abaya with head covered all the way down to my face that irritates my nose for not breathing freely and only my eyes are visible to others or I am already an outlaw by now by defying the traditions and fighting for my rights as a human being and not a prisoner of my own home.
I came in this land, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, four months ago and i was awed and feeling weird because I can’t see any female around, on the streets or even in the shops. We work in a company so every time we go out we go by group and no one is allowed to go astray by herself. We always stick together because seeing a girl by herself is like asking for her own trouble to men.
In here, female owns some businesses too and yet managed by male. They can’t have their own passport without the consent of their guardians and that must be her father, older brother or her husband. The reason is to protect them from the attempts to smuggle across the border of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, a local publication reported. In here, there are designated areas exclusively for female only and no male is allowed in there even he’s a husband and vice versa. Male and female can only go together if they can show a proof that they’re married otherwise they will be both prosecuted if caught by the mutawa (cleric) or the authority.
The peculiarity of female upbringing here is far from my parents that they indulged me to do in our society back home, I’m free to do what I want and free to go wherever my feet takes me. The eccentricity of having been born female here is aghast because they can’t be leveled with their husbands or to any man. Their voices will not be valued or heard even in their own homes. They can’t even decide whom they choses to love and spend the rest of their lives, the man of the house will be the judge of everything- who will be and who will not be. Female here are rated only as subordinate to her husband.
Until the late King Abdullah in 1999, had swept aside some several bastions of ultra- conservative, appoints Nora bint Abdullah al-Fayez as Deputy Education Minister, in charge of a new department for female students. This made a significant breakthrough in the country. This year across the Arab world appeared to be breaking the last barrier appointing high achieving and long- serving women to its highest position in banking industry they are: Rania Mahmoud Nashar, CEO of Samba Financial Group, became the first woman to head a commercial bank in the kingdom. Latifa Homoud Alsabhar was promoted as the CEO of Arab National Bank and Sarah Al Suhaimi, CEO of NCB Capital was appointed as CEO of the country’s stock market, Tadawul which is considered the biggest in all Middle East- (source)- FORBES Middle East
In May this year, the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview broadcasted by Al Arabiya channel saying “it’s time for the women to be allowed to drive” that left the religious conservatives in great awe but the prince was firmed to his words saying “No one is above the Law” including himself and this addresses also to the corrupt princes and ministers of the kingdom that were arrested last November 4. “We are returning to what we were before- a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world. We will not destroy 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas, we will destroy them today “he told the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. The kingdom also celebrated the Women’s day for the 1st time ever and granting licences to woman’s gym. Now female can go and watch games at the stadium.
On the other hand, does the world knows the real development throughout the generations of this uniformed society that makes them different from the rest of the world? Now, they certainly don’t live like their grandmothers because they are more educated and open to everything but of course the limit to what they do still lives on. And thus, doing things in a decisive manner still their priority and their one way of finding their voices that was tamed by their religion and culture.