Sunday, May 21, 2017

Saudi women are disappointed with Trump on human rights

Donald Trump arrived Saturday in a country where women must secure a male guardian’s permission to get a passport, go to college and travel, and are forbidden from driving and can’t eat in certain restaurants.
But the new U.S. president, unlike his predecessors, was not expected to push the issue of human rights on his visit to Saudi Arabia despite the urging of some in the country.
“If he’s OK with human rights abuses, with the fact that women can’t drive, with the male guardianship system, with all the issues that we have in Saudi Arabia then that really shows the type of leadership that he represents,” said Eman al Hafjan, a Riyadh resident who helped organize a demonstration of women driving cars in 2013.
As a candidate, Trump frequently criticized Saudi Arabia for its treatment of women and gays, but in recent months he has praised Saudi leaders and other regimes around the world with poor human rights records — the Philippines, China, Turkey and Egypt.
Saudi leaders know that Trump is unlikely to press them about how they run their countries. Off the table are topics such as democracy, political reform and gender equality.
Trump arrived in Riyadh on Saturday, the first stop of his first foreign trip as president.
In Saudi Arabia, where women must cover themselves from head to toe in public, there are no federal elections, no protests and no political parties or trade unions. The media are controlled by the government. People can worship only Islam in public.
The latest State Department Human Rights Report listed the official U.S. view of the kingdom’s human rights problems: “citizens’ lack of the ability and legal means to choose their government; restrictions on universal rights, such as freedom of expression, including on the internet, and the freedoms of assembly, association, movement, and religion; and pervasive gender discrimination and lack of equal rights that affected most aspects of women’s lives.”

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