A number of academic women and specialists have accused scholars of undermining the role and rights of women, Al-Hayat daily reported. They claimed some scholars were misinterpreting the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Islam in this regard.
Literature specialist Dr. Amal Al-Teaim said a number of academics specialized in the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith (Teachings of the Prophet) were relaying incorrect understandings and perceptions of women and their rights.
She noted one of the biggest challenges facing women is being deprived of their Shariah rights in addition to a lack of understanding of what they are entitled to.
During a symposium about the challenges facing Saudi women at Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, Al-Teaimi said women are still under the control of men due to the discourses of a number of scholars.
“A number of these scholars have not even touched on the true depth and meaning of Qur’anic verses that preserve women rights and there should be an increased perception of women’s rights as stipulated in the Holy Qur'an and Ahadith,” she said.
She believed that women should believe in their rights and abilities and not fall victim to degrading looks and views.
She called on those who undermine women to adhere to true Shariah teachings.
Hadith specialist Dr. Nawal Al-Eid warned that judicial authorities were ignoring women’s rights and called on them to stand up for what they were entitled to.
“Women should read and be aware of their rights as stipulated in the Holy Qur’an and Shariah,” she said.
She pointed out there are problems in Saudi society, like any other, and there were two perspectives consisting of those who call for complete equality between men and women and those who strongly believe women were practicing their full rights. “There must be a balanced view between these two opinions,” she said.
Genetics specialist Dr. Amal Al-Hazani said the recent case of a university student who died because a male paramedic was prevented from treating her clearly demonstrates the constant violation of women’s social and medical rights.
She said: “Women have been denied education by some who also believe that majoring in medicine is a door to sedition. Ironically, it is usually the same people who are now asking that women doctors attend to their wives.”
She believed enforcing the role of women should be a political decision and not a social one.
She pointed out Ministry of Planning statistics reveal that unemployment in the Kingdom stands at 10 percent, of which 85 percent are women. “Saudi women should be asked to enter a court with a guardian or be employed or accepted at the university with the approval of their guardian,” she added.
Shoura Council member Dr. Nourah Al-Udwan said illiteracy among Saudi women has declined to 8 percent and women’s participation in government jobs has increased to 37 percent this year.
This article was first published in The Saudi Gazette on Feb. 19, 2014