Sunday, July 13, 2008


NEW YORK, Feb. 4 A UN anti-discrimination committee said women in Saudi Arabia should be allowed more basic freedoms, saying the practice of needing a man's permission to marry, work, travel or be educated should end. In a report published Monday, the committee also said there should be more laws offering protection to women. The Saudi government, however, denied it discriminated against women in submissions before the report.

Last month a Saudi delegation told the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women that human rights in the kingdom were based on Sharia law. The UN body questioned the Saudi state's understanding of the idea of equality, saying similar rights for men and women is not the same as equal rights, BBC News online reported Monday.

The report highlights the situation of women who have been victims of crime. In a recent case, a woman who was gang raped was initially sentenced to jail and lashes because the court found she was wrong to have been with a man who was not her relative at the time of the attack. The report said social attitudes and the patriarchal system deter women from reporting crimes.

It said men and women do not have equal rights in marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance and says female illiteracy is still high. The report concedes there have been visible improvements in the number of women in the Saudi workforce, but there are too few women in politics.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International.

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