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Saudi Women to be Lashed for Driving

On the downside of today’s news, the brave Saudi women who exercised their right to drive (there is no law against a woman driving in Saudi Arabia, only religious police who say it violates customs) have been sentenced to 10 lashes for conviction in the Saudi court. How do you convict a woman of a crime for which there is no law???

You can read this for yourself on the Huffpost:

CAIRO — A Saudi woman was sentenced Tuesday to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom’s prohibition on female drivers, the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.

Normally, police just stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.

Making Tuesday’s sentence all the more upsetting to activists is that it came just two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women’s rights and decreed that women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to a currently all-male advisory body known as the Shura Council.

The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonizing the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.

Abdullah said he had the backing of the official clerical council. But activists saw Tuesday’s sentencing as a retaliation of sorts from the hard-line Saudi religious establishment that controls the courts and oversees the intrusive religious police.

“Our king doesn’t deserve that,” said Sohila Zein el-Abydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights. She burst into tears in a phone interview and said, “The verdict is shocking to me, but we were expecting this kind of reaction.”

The driver, Shaima Jastaina, in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission, activist Samar Badawi said. The punishment is usually carried out within a month. It was not possible to reach Jastaina, but Badawi, in touch with Jastaina’s family, said she appealed the verdict.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women – both Saudi and foreign – from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

There are no written laws that restrict women from driving. Rather, the ban is rooted in conservative traditions and religious views that hold giving freedom of movement to women would make them vulnerable to sins.

Activists say the religious justification is irrelevant.

“How come women get flogged for driving while the maximum penalty for a traffic violation is a fine, not lashes?” Zein el-Abydeen said. “Even the Prophet (Muhammad’s) wives were riding camels and horses because these were the only means of transportation.”

Since June, dozens of women have led a campaign to try to break the taboo and impose a new status quo. The campaign’s founder, Manal al-Sherif, who posted a video of herself driving on Facebook, was detained for more than 10 days. She was released after signing a pledge not to drive or speak to media.

Since then, women have been appearing in the streets driving their cars once or twice a week.

Until Tuesday, none had been sentenced by the courts. But recently, several women have been summoned for questioning by the prosecutor general and referred to trial.

One of them, housewife Najalaa al-Harriri, drove only two times, not out of defiance, but out of need, she says.

“I don’t have a driver. I needed to drop my son off at school and pick up my daughter from work,” she said over the phone from the western port city of Jeddah.

“The day the king gave his speech, I was sitting at the prosecutor’s office and was asked why I needed to drive, how many times I drove and where,” she said. She is to stand trial in a month.

After the king’s announcement about voting rights for women, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdel Aziz Al Sheik blessed the move and said, “It’s for women’s good.”

Al-Harriri, who is one of the founders of a women’s rights campaign called “My Right My Dignity,” said, “It is strange that I was questioned at a time the mufti himself blessed the king’s move.”

Asked if the sentencing will stop women from driving, Maha al-Qahtani, another female activist, said, “This is our right, whether they like it or not.”

UPDATE:

RIYADH, Saudi Arab — Saudi King Abdullah has overturned a court ruling sentencing a Saudi woman to be lashed 10 times for defying the kingdom’s ban on female drivers, a government official said Wednesday.

The official declined to elaborate on the monarch’s decision, and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Woooo HOOOOO on YOU, King Abdullah!

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Law and Order, Living Conditions, News, Road Trips, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | 2 Comments

Secrets to a LONG Marriage

Read this article and weep, and be sure you have a group of wild girlfriends. :-)

I found it this morning in AOL News Huffpost:

The Fine Line Between Marriage and Divorce

Iris Krasnow, Author, The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married

I’m just coming off 200 interviews and two years of listening to mature wives reflect on — or moan about — how they are managing to stick it out in long marriages. Scenes from their relationships that range from 15 to 70 years are woven together in my new book, The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married coming out in early October.

I’ve been married for 23 years during which my husband and I have raised four sons, and have had plenty of rocking and rolling in our relationship. From my own experiences, and from the dozens of sagas unloaded into my tape recorder, I am constantly reminded of the eggshell-thin line that separates loving from loathing. I know that staying married can mean plates flying across kitchens, tears soaking pillows and emailing old boyfriends at 3 a.m.

I thought nothing could shock me about what really goes on behind closed doors between two people working hard to make it “til death do us part” — without killing someone first. After all, I have heard every brand of twisted love story — swinging, adultery, spouses coming out as gay after 30 years together, threesomes, fist fights in restaurants, even the tale of a husband discovered to be having sex with a sheep, documented in a photograph discovered by his wife in his nightstand drawer.

But in piecing together this latest book I have been surprised at some of the revelations. I’m not as ruffled by the tawdry tales of farm animals or one I heard from a 55-year-old wife about screwing a perfectly sculpted landscaper while her doctor husband was lecturing on vein surgery in another country. My biggest shock is how many outwardly cheerful women who have been married forever think about divorce if not weekly, at least once a month.

How’s this for a statistic? Of the 200 plus women interviewed and woven into The Secret Lives of Wives, I can count on one hand those who have never considered splitting up. It was no surprise that Beth often considered leaving her husband. He routinely told her she was fat and ugly, and when they fought in the car he would pull over and shove her out the door. Who could blame Shauna for her many consults with a divorce lawyer? She’s the wife of the traveling doctor, a man who hasn’t initiated sex since their honeymoon 30 years ago. Her secret is that she has it both ways: an intact family and a ten-year affair with a hard-bodied lover, who does her landscaping for free.

The biggest shocker is the number of wives in stable unions who frequently contemplate fleeing their marriages. These are not abused wives; they are women with nice husbands who give them orgasms and jewelry and stability. Yet many of these settled midlife women admitted they were slightly jealous of Tipper Gore who gets to have a fresh start after 40 years of matrimony with the same guy. While many speculated about whether one of the Gores fell in love with someone else, my instincts without talking to either of them is that perhaps they are a lot like other couples portrayed in the book. Maybe they were simply sick of being around each other. And maybe one or both of them finally couldn’t take it any more.

Who stays married and who doesn’t is a question not always about commitment or deep abiding love — it’s about endurance.

I have found in my collection of wives who remain in long running marriages that the majority of them share these common traits: They have the guts and determination to stick it out, no matter what. And their laments about their marriages aren’t because of anything serious. It’s the subtle nuances of living with one person in one house for a very long time that grates at the soul, that causes a simmering malaise. It’s the grind of the ordinary that drives people into thinking, “Is this all there is? I want more. I want adventure. I want change.”

Who wouldn’t want changes with the current statistics on lifespan? Women in their 80s and 90s are the fastest growing segment of the aging population which means that many of us wives could easily hit our 50th wedding anniversaries and beyond. That’s a hell of a long time to sustain one love affair, particularly when empty nest hits and it’s only you and the husband with no cushion of kids as a buffer.

There are three strategies that have worked the best with the women I interviewed. The happiest wives have a sense of purpose and passion in work and causes outside of the home. Wives who counted on a spouse for fulfillment and sustenance were often angry and lonely. And the happiest wives don’t spend a whole lot of time with their husbands. My chapter called Separate Summers is filled with women who take their own vacations, take their own summers, take charge of their own lives. Couples who allow each other to grow separately are the ones with the best chance of growing together and staying together.

Finally, the wives with the highest marital satisfaction have a tight circle of wild women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent about their husbands.

Yes, my work on this book has been quite surprising and enlightening. I now know that acceptance of mediocrity in a marriage relationship is more prevalent that you would imagine. I know that sometimes the only reason women stay with a spouse is because they have divorced friends who may have more sex than they do with new husbands but they also have cranky step-kids who hate them. Other women stay in lackluster marriages because they don’t want to give up their swanky lifestyles, and divorce is expensive, really expensive. We know from our friends who are pushed to the edge and do call it quits that the grass isn’t always greener, there are parched patches on both sides of the fence.

But most women told me they stay married simply because they like their marriages more than they dislike them, even if much of the time it’s 51 percent “like” to 49 percent “dislike.”

Iris Krasnow is a bestselling author and an assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University. Connect with her on: http://www.iriskrasnow.com

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Women's Issues | 2 Comments

   

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