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Ed Webb

American Woman Loses Custody Battle for Daughter in Saudi Arabia - The New York Times - 0 views

  • as an American woman living in Saudi Arabia, Ms. Vierra has navigated a punishing legal maze ever since she first asked her Saudi ex-husband for a divorce in 2017, then opened custody proceedings last November
  • a Saudi judge awarded custody of Zeina to her father’s mother, who lives with him, despite video evidence Ms. Vierra submitted to the court that she said showed her ex-husband doing drugs and verbally abusing her in front of their daughter.
  • “Since the mother is new to Islam and a foreigner in this country and embraces customs and traditions in the way she was raised,” the judge wrote in his ruling, “we must avoid exposing Zeina to these traditions.”
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  • The guardianship system’s rules extend to women who marry Saudis, like Ms. Vierra, and their children, including dual citizens like Zeina. Even after they divorced last year, Ms. Vierra’s ex-husband, whom she married in 2013, remains her guardian and Zeina’s.Wielding his guardianship powers, he prevented her from going home to see her family at Christmas and let her legal residency expire, which left her stuck, unable to access her bank account or leave the country.
  • He told the court that Ms. Vierra, who is from Washington State but moved to the kingdom in 2011 to teach at a women’s university, did not speak Arabic well, and that she was an atheist.
  • He also submitted photos of her in a bikini, in yoga pants and with her hair uncovered — evidence of suspect or forbidden dress in a country that requires women to wear loose abayas in public.
  • Ms. Vierra said the photos were taken in the United States and were from her private social media accounts.
  • The court accepted his testimony at face value, she said, while hers was legally worthless unless she could bring in male witnesses to back her up.
  • he accused her in court of giving him the drugs and of forcing him to say he was an atheist, both of which Ms. Vierra denies.
  • “It’s videos versus male witnesses,” Ms. Vierra said. “They wouldn’t in some cases even look at the evidence that I had. It was just completely disregarded because he ‘swore to God.’ It’s all been infuriating.”
  • She had committed to a life in Saudi Arabia so that she could be with her daughter and Zeina could know her Saudi relatives, she said, and had also been proud to obtain a license to open her yoga studio, the first of its kind in the country.Now, she said, she felt everything she had done in good faith was being used against her.
Ed Webb

French mother who won custody battle with Saudi prince falls to her death from Paris ho... - 0 views

  • she was also accused of being a Muslim convert from Judaism – a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia
    • Ed Webb
       
      Needs citation! This sounds very odd. Conversion to Islam is no crime under shari'a, so why would this be an accusation. Perhaps she was accused of converting back to Judaism. Apostasy IS a crime under shari'a.
Ed Webb

Saudi Arabia, My Changing Home - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • We do indeed live in a gender-segregated society. But affluent and educated Saudis who follow international news often find it difficult to accept a viewpoint that portrays their family members as subjugated and oppressed. Many Saudis, for example, regard the requirement that their mothers, wives and sisters obtain permission slips to leave the country or pursue higher education as nothing but a minor inconvenience. It’s also hard for many well-off people here to wrap their minds around the fact that there are actually women who might not be content to live in a country whose legal system still permits an 80-year-old man to marry an 11-year-old girl or can force a happily married couple to divorce if religious courts accept a family member’s claim that the husband comes from a lower-status tribe. Many Saudis believe that the outside world has some ulterior motive for criticizing their country. There were times in school when I was told that “infidels” take a hypocritical stance on justice and human rights out of spite, to sully Muslim women and denigrate Islam.
  • Growing up in the Midwest Bible-belt during the 1980s, my family and I were sometimes treated like the enemy
  • some Saudi parents would not let their daughters play with me because they thought I might teach them how to be “Westernized.” My American-accented Arabic put off some classmates and even some teachers. Those who taught religion were particularly suspicious, often checking whether I would say noon-day prayers
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  • the outside world has only started being accessible to the average citizen with the introduction of satellite TV in the 1990s. Exposure increased with the accessibility of the Internet in the past decade. Saudis are now able to see the rest of the world for themselves rather than accept the distorted version depicted by our religious establishment.
  • as the world grows smaller and more Saudis are communicating on a personal level with others across borders, cultures, religions and languages, stereotypes we’ve been taught — and the stereotypes outsiders have of us — are being torn down
  • Eman Al Nafjan is the author of the Saudiwoman’s Weblog (saudiwoman.me), a blog on Saudi society, culture, women and human rights issues
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