“I’ve often observed that women can be the weakest link in women’s rights.”
—Jean Sasson, Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia
Women in Saudi Arabia Today. Authors: Almunajjed, M. The book studies the social issues related to the status of women in Saudi Arabia and the extent to which Saudi Arabian women actively participate in the development of their country. It also focuses on education and work outside the home as they affect the traditional role of the Saudi woman. 20 Looking at Women in Islam 249 Discover the role of women in an Islamic society and how Islam has been one of the most progressive systems for promoting women’s equality. Part 6: The History of Islam 267 21 Muhammad in Mecca 269 Discover the man who would alter human history forever with the cry that there is no god but God. Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. She has four mansions on three continents, her own private jet, glittering jewels, designer dresses galore. But in reality she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons. Hidden behind her black floor-length veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her. Jul 30, 2018 2018-07-30. DEGA — The house in Saudi Arabia was huge, with endless rooms blasted with cool air conditioning, recalls Tsega of her years as a migrant domestic worker. Now back in Dega, her village in northern Ethiopia, the 45-year-old mother of four describes her former life in the Gulf. The air is thick with heat in this arid northern region.
Title: Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia
Author: Jean Sasson
Series/Stand Alone: Series (Followed by Princess Sultana’s Daughters& Princess Sultana’s Circle)
Where did I get the book: Lent to me by a friend, which led me to buying a copy for myself
Why did I get it: Feminism is a popular genre
Jean Sasson, in my opinion, is one of the best feminism writers. It is with complete sincerity that I say this book is, unputdownable. She has an uncanny ability to let the reader relate emotionally and sympathize with the characters, sometimes empathize too. This book made me research on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, and even though, some of the tightly-bound restrictions have been lifted, women are still not free.
Review: (Sultana is a pseudonym to protect the identity of the princess) The book recounts the life of Princess Sultana, from childhood in the 1960s to married life and motherhood in the 1990s.
She tells of rituals and society, instilled by the men who dominate the supposedly weaker sex. It tells of undisclosed power and wealth which leads them to committing atrocious acts and covering them up on basis of faith, religion and basically, superiority. Women are denied education mostly, save for the Quran (Koran), which is to be learnt by every Muslim; forced to wear abaayas, it not being a burka, but one that covers more fully, from their first menstruation. This coming-of-age period incidentally makes them eligible for ANY man in ANY age group, whom their fathers deem fit for marriage–for financial and societal gain.
It also recites of the wealth of the Al-Saud clan, that has been hoarded over generations. The oil-rich states give more gains than what the men of the royal family know to do with, who cover their women in jewels that make them up so much, it makes them look like a sacrifice. The life of luxury, does not, in any sense, instill in them a sense of humbleness. Instead, it gives the men more incentive to do as they please.
Sultana praises her religion and turns to the Quran (Koran), Mohammad, and God, but rebels against the sanctioning of maltreatment of women by her faith. It gives an unforgettable insight into the role of Saudi women in the daily functioning of their society; how they keep their oppression and faith in tandem. She reveals how the men are guided by their greed and wallets that are beyond control, and manipulate the teachings of the Sharia to suit their needs.
The depressing and heart-wrenching narration brings tears to the reader’s eyes.
My Thoughts: This non-fiction story of the Princess and the women around her, highlights the notorious crimes committed against women. Islam, being the dominant religion in Saudi Arabia, gives respect to women. It does not justify divorce on unsatisfactory grounds, domestic violence, demanding insensible things of women. But, in this book, all of that is done in the name of religion and male chauvinism. The mutawwahs are another prominent factor of this society, also known as the religious police. A person will find these mutawwahs roaming the streets in groups, from dealing out punishment to young women and men who are unrelated, found in public places, to harassing foreigners not covering themselves according to their satisfaction. Things have improved, yes, I agree, but giving women the right to drive a car isn’t all that the situation demands, is it? Women are still stoned to death. Female castration is a tradition in the villages. Genocide is still rampant. Polygyny is approved of. It is not only in Saudi Arabia, but all of the Muslim world. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Kurdistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, there are numerous Islamic countries where women still live in constant fear of their lives, in fear of lives of their daughters, in fear of doing a deed that would be considered criminal by their men. The ultimate result of which, is death.
This book moves a reader to praying for the lives of these women all over the world. And to the more spirited, taking action.
Notable Quotes: “Poverty can turn a person into a flaming torch for change and revolution, without which mankind would come to a standstill.”
“How true is it that humanity refuses compromise during prosperity, and reaches out for arbitration when weak.”
“You go first.
Go through the door before me.
Enter the limousine while I wait by your side.
Enter the shops while I stand behind, guarding your back.
Sit at the table before me.
Please, sample the tastiest morsels while I sit quietly.
My desire is that you go first, in every occasion of earthly life.
Only once will I go before you,
And that will be at my last moment.
For when death claims us, you must go last.
Because I can’t live one second without you.”
“If nothing else, I have learned that aging has nothing to do with the accumulation of years. Aging is the inevitable defeat of parents by their young.”
“For the first time since giving birth so many years before, I grew weary of motherhood, and wondered how many more generations of women could be enticed to burden themselves with the solitary and thankless procreation, nourishing, and guidance of the human race.”
“Those who are free cannot fathom the small victories of those who live on a tether.”
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