I’m fortunate. People who know me will read the title and look at me funny. They might even look at others who know me with raised eyebrows, and perhaps remark to one another nelle has finally flipped for certain this time, calling herself fortunate. Ah, but I am, and in a lot more ways than I care to articulate in this post, since this is not about me as the daft fortunate one, but is about 40 something year old Samia, a captive surgeon in Saudi Arabia.
Captive? Samia wishes to have the right to marry the person of her choice, in a consensual mutual arrangement most of us here take as a matter of course. Her father and brothers see it differently, they want to match her up with some flunky of their choosing. Samia has taken her case to two Saudi courts and lost both times. Now she is shooting for the Saudi Supreme Court.
According to the linked story, when Samia refused to marry any of the sorry lot her family chose, she was locked in a room for weeks, as well as beaten with a hose. As if that is not enough, they take her salary, and give her an allowance. And good old dad, that refugee from feudal days, hung up on the press, claiming he had no wish to talk on this matter – or allow his daughter (his learned daughter) to speak as well.
I’ve a handy solution to this. She could use the freedom, we could use a doctor. I’m pretty certain we can spin the wheels of immigration and open them for the good doctor. Here, we get the benefit of her skills, she gets one hell of an uptick in freedom and standard of living. I’d love to be the first to teach her to cuss, starting with a mild expletive in a message of ‘go to hell’ to those who treated her so poorly. Actually, since women are forbidden to drive in the dusty old kingdom, I’d like to teach Samia how to drive as well, using my vintage 1999 Honda Plummobile that she would soon put to shame with a purchase of some fancy new Lexus or Mercedes. That’s okay, I don’t need or want a Lexus or Mercedes, but I would love to see her be all she can be, using her skill for her benefit and the benefit of the person or persons she chooses to share with or assist, free of the encumbrance of small minded relatives.
This isn’t a religion thing. It is patriarchal power embedded in culture and religion, where those things can be used as excuses to defeat the will of those disinclined to adhere to such nonsensical violations of human rights. It ranks right there with overpowering for rape. In this case, brothers and a father take away her rights and take them upon themselves, artificially inflating their relative importance and stature, while sucking it out of their sister and daughter.
We here in the West can’t change another society. We can’t impose our will any more than I wish to see those buttheads impose theirs. But I would love to walk up to her in the hospital, cloak and dagger skulduggery style, and whisper a proposal that she scoot to America, where her earnings would be hers and her right to choose would be infringed upon by no one. We have our faults, lots and lots of them, but one thing we do pretty well, and that is give people room to breathe.