Friday, 3 December 2010

The Darker Side of the Desert

I haven’t really written about the darker side of Saudi Arabia. I don’t know why not.  Maybe I’m being PC – don’t rock the boat.  Maybe I’m being chicken – big Arab brother is watching every word I write (that’s the rumour anyway). Maybe I’m not sure if you’d believe it, because sometimes even I don’t believe it.

What is the darker side of Saudi Arabia?  Where does one begin?
Maid from Indonesia.  
I could talk, again, about the hell life that maids live in this country. There are umpteen stories of maids being spoken to unkindly, being locked away, or their wages withheld for months on end, of beatings, rapes, torture and murder.  If you want to spend an evening feeling horrified just Google Saudi Maids.

There are very few stories of perpetrators ever being brought to trial for these actions. Why? Because, in many cases, they are Saudi, good, pious, blameless Islam practicing Saudis, while the maids are slaves with no legal rights.  None. The labour law specifically cuts maids out of any protection. 

Instead there are cover ups, lies, outright denial or complete ignoring of the issue. Or reverse blame – the maids cut, beat, raped, tortured, burnt or nailed themselves.

At the malls we watch the maids trailing behind the women as they shop, often loaded down carrying the kids and the many shopping bags. It is, we have noted, very rare to see a maid smile. They look worn, tired, and downright unhappy.

In the few cases where maids do reach out to tell someone, anyone, about their plight and their embassy makes an application to the Saudi authorities to rescue her from an abusive situation, they are told, ’Sorry, it’s the start of the weekend. We aren’t at work. You’ll have to wait till Saturday, and apply again’.

Yes, I could talk about that – but would you believe it.

I could talk about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's)  in Saudi. STI’s picked up by Good Muslim Men who have averted their eyes from Good Muslim Women and focused them squarely and lustfully on women of less repute from the rest of the world.

Good Muslim men who visit outside the country specifically to take partake in ‘entertainment’. Good Muslim men who seriously believe that outside Saudi boundaries the rest of the world is one big whore waiting to satisfy their desires, while their wives wait at home.  And for those Good Muslim men for whom sex outside marriage is an issue, Saudi rule has come to their aid so they can relieve their pent up tensions while out of town – they can have temporary marriages, anytime from 1 day (sounds like 1 night stand to me) upwards. While their wives wait at home for them to return.

Saudi men eventually do return home to their waiting wives and they dip their wick and spread their disease without care, without second thought.

Should the wife divulge to her husband the condition she has contracted, once she learns the shocking news, what will he say?  Will he apologise?  Will he accept fault? Will he go out of his way to get her the best care possible and will he change his wick dipping ways?  Not on your Nelly. Not in this patriarchal “man is god’s favored one” part of the globe. Nope. He points his finger at his good waiting wife, the women who can’t move from her home unless he gives her permission to do so while he’s out spray painting the town with his oats, and spits - Whore! Yep, I don’t know how, but the disease he picked up and brought home to share with her, is all her fault.

I find it bemusing that the latest public discussion on STI's  and Saudi women (and you won't find many) also lays blame squarely at the women's feet by saying they don't know how to protect themselves, they need education. 

How does a wife protect herself from a husband who is entitled to bed with her anytime he wants, whether she's in the mood or not,  after a weekend away with the boys and some questionable activity?  What education are you going to provide to help her with that situation.  I'm not so naïve to think all Saudi girls are innocent flowers - hymen repair surgery is a fact.  But I believe the majority of Saudi wives are innocent.  They are one-man ladies. 

What will happen to this faithful women?  She is disposable. She’ll be discarded on the scrap heap and replaced by another eye averting, potential disease receiving receptacle.  It’s best for her to say nothing.  How do I know?  Talk to the expat nurses working in this country who deal every day with heartbroken, horrified, sobbing, fearful wives.

We were in a café once, relaxing in our closed door cubicle, with Saudi women ensconced in the cubicle next door, talking in low tones. Then the crying started.  Low at first, under the breath, between the words. Soon the emotions couldn’t be contained in a low cry and there was sobbing, with words gasped out between heaving cries.

We could only imagine what must have affected this young woman so – and she was young, there was no doubt, crying on the shoulder of an older confidant. Maybe she was a good waiting wife who had averted her eyes and got shit in return.

Yes, I could talk about that – but do you really want to hear it.

I could talk about the child marriages that take place in this country far too frequently. Girls as young as 10 years of age being married off to old men.

Want to spend an evening feeling sick.
Google Saudi Child Marriages

Young girls, who have no idea they are being married, are taken from their homes and raped by their ‘new’ husbands - men who are little more than pedophiles. Young girls, whose fathers enter into marriage agreements - in Saudi all marriages are arranged by the females guardian, usually the father, though in his absence (death) this can be their brother or significant other male - so they can illegally take their dowry and buy themselves a car.  What a trade.

As I understand it, a Saudi man must pay a dowry to marry, and that dowry is supposed to go to the bride. In the case of child brides, it often doesn’t. I find it so appalling that it is un-Islamic to take your daughters dowry, but perfectly fine to marry your 10 year old child to a filthy, twisted, sick (can’t think of enough adjectives but you get the picture) excuse for a man – they must be perverted because decent men, real men, wouldn’t even consider for a millisecond marrying and having sex with a child.

Marriage celebrants, (a purely western term I’m applying to those in Saudi with the power to ‘marry’) say they have no choice but to perform the marriages, even if they don’t want to, because there is no regulation in Saudi that sets a legal age limit for fathers to marry off their girls. (The Powers That Be have apparently been working on this for the past year – how hard can it be to think up a two digit number, preferably starting with a 2? People working for The Powers That Be can count, right?) Marriage celebrants say they have to perform these marriages because according to Islam, in Saudi anyway, father knows what’s best for his little girl.

Yes, I could talk about that – but do you really want me to.

The underbelly in this country of ridiculous wealth is dripping with hypocrisies and inhumanities all apparently springing from a religion of peace.  It would be nice if someone with balls could stand up and say ‘Enough……for God’s sake, enough’.

But, it seems, most of the balls in this country have turned soft sitting out on side walk café’s after a hard day pretending to work.  The balls belonging to the pedophiles and woman haters aren’t about to change anything - they like life here just the way it is.  And the good guys…hell, sometimes I wonder if there are there any!  But that’s being pessimistic.  So, yes there are good guys, but they are either waiting for change to happen slowly, without having to upset anybody, or they have left the country.

Why don’t I write much about The Darker Side of the Desert aka Saudi Arabia?  Because like the dark side of any country, it sucks!

Ka Kite,


  1. A very accurate description of the darker side of Saudi. But just for balance, how about also mentioning the darker side in paradise New Zealand, aka Nia Glassie, Delcilia Whittaker, Kahui twins, domestic violence cases, racist treatment of immigrants etc.

  2. What has been said is correct in it's true form. Nothing wrong about this and it is a fact that women are treated badly in this pious country Ask the goats, even they will complain about Saudi men before being slaughtered.

  3. When the authorities come across this post you will be arrested for insulting them and for insulting Islam which can result in dire punishment. I really suggest you wait to post the criticism when you have permanently left the country. Otherwise, you really play with fire with your life. It's easy to feel all powerful and that nothing will happen to you as long as it doesn't. Once you get in trouble there it will be very difficult to resolve.


Have a few thoughts on this post. I would love to hear them.

If You Liked This Post Share It With Friends

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...