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What is the law of guardianship? Essay

What is the law of guardianship?, 499 words essay example

Essay Topic: law

The most oppressive form of Sharia law arguably is the law of guardianship. All women single or married must have a male guardian from the moment they are born until death. The possession of the woman is held with her father until she marries. If she does not marry and the father passes another male member of the family a brother, uncle, or even her son, must take on the role of guardian. The role of the guardian is to grant permission for the woman to go to school, leave the house, go to the doctor, get a passport, travel, marry, etc. Imagine the humiliation of an adult woman who cannot travel nor have a medical procedure without the permission of her fifteen-year-old son. The simple act of taking a walk in the park or going to the store for a quick errand is not a freedom granted to women in Saudi Arabia. If the woman's guardian is a reasonable man, the relationship is generally void of challenges and violence. However, if a woman is under the guardianship of an aggressive and abusive man it can be a life of hardship and in many stated cases, a life of emotional and physical abuse.
All women must be accompanied by a male guardian or risk severe punishment. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. If a male guardian cannot be present the woman must take a taxi and the driver must be licensed and she must always sit in the rear of the taxi. The lists of small but, effective forms of oppression are plentiful. Women are not allowed to compete in sports, try on clothes in a dressing room at a department store, or even ride a bicycle. Men and women are not allowed to share public spaces, coffee houses, restaurants, banks, etc. all have a separate space for women and men. Women and men cannot show any public displays of affection although it is common to see Saudi men holding hands. Many have argued including Mir-Hosseini Ziba, author of Towards Gender Equality that the majority of the Sharia laws are not of the Quran rather of the cultural expectations constructed by men. "I argue that Muslim family laws are the products of sociocultural assumptions and juristic reasoning about the nature of relations between men and women. In other words, they are 'man-made' juristic constructs, shaped by the social, cultural and political conditions within which Islam's sacred texts are understood and turned into law" (Ziba). Consequently, when a woman finds herself in a marriage with an abusive husband she has little recourse. The Saudi courts system is extremely conservative and governed by conservative Muslim men who also have a conflict of interest in the fact that they are also guardians. There are no female judges and until 2011 when King Abdullah decreed that women could practice law, there were no female lawyers. Therefore, where does a woman turn for help when there are no laws that support her?

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