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Saudi Women, Tired of Restraints, Find Ways to Flee (nytimes.com)
83 points by jseliger 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments

I feel that this story by the BBC, presumably filed by Jonathan Head (https://twitter.com/pakhead), was what spread wide awareness of Rahaf's realtime emergency situation:


I was reading r/worldnews and came across this on page two. It was so strangely under-voted. I just entered the twitter URL in that screengrab and saw a scarily fresh video of her attempts of blocking the door to her hotel room (air-side @ BKK, "Miracle Hotel", where they had put her waiting for a flight to Kuwait). That made it so real. I posted that link and it got thousands of upvotes very, very quickly. I hope that spread some awareness, somehow.

Afterwards I feel quite a bit upset that media in Sweden under-reported this event. I'm pretty sure it's the confused feminism/Islam alliance that caused this.

The countries whose journalists really stepped up here were: The UK and Australia.

Read this wonderful, but appalling book (true story) over December:

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

PRINCESS describes the life of Sultana Al Sa'ud, a princess in the royal house of Saudi Arabia. Hidden behind her black veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband and her country.

Sultana tells of appalling oppressions, everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations: thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age, young women killed by drowning, stoning, or isolation in the "women's room."

PRINCESS is a testimony to a woman of indomitable spirit and courage, and you will never forget her or her Muslim sisters.


Before I only vaguely knew of the struggles of women in Saudi Arabia.

For those leaving I imagine it seems like they're leaving forever, family, friends, everything you knew is gone. There's no way to know if you ever can go back considering the possible consequences and you're often going to places that aren't familiar. That's a rough choice.

True, but in a major city in Canada at that age, she will have no problem making friends. Just has to contend with her first winter. Otherwise her timing coudn't be better, with diplomatic relations being the disaster they are now.

I'm not sure that Canada is for someone leaving Saudi Arabia as a positive thing as you think. The person leaving doesn't necessarily love Canada... even if it is the better option.

Why wouldn't they?

Lots of immigrants don’t like it. I personally know many who don’t.

Some stay and complain about “their ways” and how it’s better “back home”. Generally it’s older people, who are now stuck. They can never go back.

Others actually go back.

I know of a whole family who moved to Canada, not once, but twice! And eventually still went back to Eastern Europe. And this was mid-2000s, post-war country. Kids finished university and they were gone.

I know of 3 younger people who were proper immigrants, not edu visa, had finished their education and were offered/found good opportunities back in their countries and moved.

One friend of mine lived in Canada almost 20 years. Went to Moscow following his gf (she got a job as an English teacher). He loves it there and he stayed permanently.

I know many more stories like that. Life in Canada is good. It’s safe and peaceful. Almost complacent. Not everyone enjoys that lifestyle though.

I think it is way to easy to assume our places and cultures that we're familiar with will be comfortable or appreciated by others.

I met a former Amish person who left that way of life once. One of their biggest challenges was explaining to others that because they chose not to be Amish ... doesn't mean they want to be like <insert the given person's preferred culture and lifestyle> or that they would approve of it or like it.

That's a very lonely place to be.


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h0mEDw 10 days ago [flagged]

Eh, I think I have something interesting to say on this topic. I'm not making a "religious flame war", merely stating that literal and thorough implementations of scriptures cause human suffering. Please see this comment:


Not what this site is for.

> Saudi Arabia is a very thorough implementation of Islam, and therefore a disgusting country.

You make the assumption that the Saudi version of Islam is the only valid one. It's not.

I don't think the parent made that assumption, though. They stated it was "thorough", not valid. While I have no idea what a "valid" interpretation of Islam means (it seems like an unprovable honorific, bestowed arbitrarily), "thorough" seems more like an assertion of direct correspondence to the original text.

> "thorough" seems more like an assertion of direct correspondence to the original text

Direct correspondence to the original text is not the way most religions work, and it's not the way Christianity and Islam have worked historically.

Scripture is not always interpreted literally, and the people who insist on a literal interpretation are usually innovators, because it wasn't done that way originally.

The literalists are not more thorough than the others in their understanding of their religion or their dedication to it -- they are just more literal in their reading, and often more simplistic in their beliefs as a result.

I don't particularly disagree with you, I was simply making an observation that the original claim of "thoroughness" didn't seem to me to imply any assertion of perceived validity.

Besides that, the perceived validity of religious interpretations is largely in the eye of the beholder and statistically varies with sociocultural context and many other factors. Personally, the farther away from literalism people get on the literalist-modern Unitarian scale, the happier I'd be.

True, but the only way to make it more sensible is to be less thorough. I.e. not implement certain rules that are stated explicitly in the books. Like modern Christians and Jews that do not kill adulterers, even though Deuteronomy explicitly tells them to do so.

The literal interpretation of the scriptures is not the only one, and it's certainly not the one that was prevalent historically. That's true for both Christianity and Islam.

To read scripture literally is not more thorough than to interpret it in some other way.

Well, by thorough I simply meant not skipping any part. And those horrible parts of scriptures from religions originating from middle east (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) really cannot be sensibly interpreted in any metaphoric way unless by skipping it. A common way to do it is by saying "this is very specific code that was only relevant in societies back then; we're wise to not follow it now". But that's just skipping with extra steps.

Edit: just to make sure it's clear - I'm very happy when such skipping happens. A quote from Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz:

> When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever say he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.

> By “an old Jew of Galicia”.

Protip: Stoning for adultery isn’t in the Quran, despite any grumbling about lost verses you might hear.

Yes, it’s one of the rare cases where the religion as actually practiced is MORE brutal than its founding text calls for. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajm

Saudi Arabia's issues have more to do with authoritarianism. Authoritarianism can come in vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.

That is such a courageous step to take. What happens if asylum request is denied and they are returned custody to Saudi Arabia and their family? That scares me. I hope they know what to say when asking for asylum.

They are used to treating women like children who never grow up. There is always a guardian in charge of them. It is crazy to read they've set up a website to send notifications and disable family members from travel.

They only just allowed women to vote/run for office a few years ago, and women to drive last year. This is a great produced piece by nytimes as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ8WPHj6Nhw

how is this hacker news material?


Any religion that gets to a billion followers (now nearly two) will by nature play host to many varying and contradictory movements and schools of thought.


not sure why you are flagged but you bring out a valid point.

He is flagged because you are not allowed to call out the political left on supporting Islam. Even though it basically contradicts everything that is politically left.

It's a garbage religion and has no place in America.

Make Istanbul Constantinople Again. Deus vult.

Religious flamewar is not welcome on Hacker News. We've banned this account for that and other guidelines violations.

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I think flagged for a lot of flamebaiting and misrepresentation of all the things.

I'm going to address one point and then flee this thread: "An American Woman wanting to be a housewife is internalized misogyny..." No. Modern (4th wave) feminists don't think that. That train of thought hasn't really been popular since the 70's.

If you're going to bring in the intersection of religions, it's pretty easy to say that they all have conservative and liberal branches, and that typically modern feminism falls to "if it works for you and isn't about you oppressing someone, have at it". So most 4th wave feminists would be able to reconcile a woman wanting to be Muslim and also not be restrained by society. The same way they assume that you can be a Christian and also a cool person, or a stay at home mom and a feminist.

Are you seriously saying that a woman choosing to wear a hijab like in a place where you have to do it is empowering? Or the equivalent would be you are going to hell if you don't do something (like a Muslim whose family says she must wear one). That's rediculous.

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