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Absurd: Saudi Arabia Now Tasked With Promoting “Gender Equality” Worldwide as Head of Women’s Rights Commission

  |   By Lou Dobbs Staff

Abdulaziz Alwasil

At the Commission on the Status of Women’s (CSW) annual meeting in New York in March, the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdulaziz Alwasil, was elected as chair of the commission with no dissent.

The commission, which focuses on promoting gender equality and empowering women around the world, is now being led by a country with an “abysmal” record on women’s rights.

Meet Abdulaziz Alwasil of Saudi Arabia, the new Chair of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

He now heads “the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” https://t.co/WrAUowcV32 pic.twitter.com/tjGQjTRxGn

— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) March 29, 2024

Sherine Tadros, the head of the New York office of Amnesty International, told The Guardian, “Whoever is in the chair, which is now Saudi Arabia, is in a key position to influence the planning, the decisions, the taking stock, and looking ahead, in a critical year for the commission.”

“Saudi Arabia is now at the helm, but Saudi Arabia’s own record on women’s rights is abysmal, and a far cry from the mandate of the commission.”

The Personal Status Law passed in 2022,  which the kingdom points to as proof of “progress,” still requires that women must have the permission of a male guardian to marry regardless of their age or former marital status.

If a woman refuses to have sex with her husband, does not live in the marital home, or dares to refuse to travel with him without a “legitimate excuse,” withdrawal of financial support is justified under the law.

More disturbingly, women who openly speak out for human rights reforms can be imprisoned, face travel bans, and are unable to speak freely.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain has publicly decried the decision.

However, Saudi Arabia systematically promotes well-established gender discrimination laws and portrays them as progressive. For example, the 2022 Personal Status Law has been criticized for perpetuating the male guardianship system and codifying discrimination against women. The law fails to provide adequate protection for women from domestic violence and makes them vulnerable to psychological abuse. Men often have the right to limit financial support to their wives if disputes arise. Therefore, the law codifies (and protects) men’s guardianship powers in Saudi Arabia. Male guardianship is a system in which women depend on a man who has the authority to make a range of crucial decisions.

However, this is not the only critical aspect of women’s discrimination in Saudi Arabia. For years, the Kingdom has arrested women’s rights activists who campaigned to end of the male guardianship system. One of the famous cases is that of Manahil Al-Otaibi, who was a victim of enforced disappearance and was imprisoned because of her support for women’s rights on social media platforms. However, women demanding human rights reforms and others who were imprisoned, are facing travel bans and are unable to speak freely.

Hillel Neuer, an international human rights lawyer and Executive Director of United Nations Watch points out that in today’s absurd UN, China sits on the Human Rights Council, Saudi Arabia chairs the Women’s Rights Commission,  and the Islamic Republic of Iran chairs the Disarmament Commission.

Champions of the UN in 2024:
China sits on the UN Human Rights Council
Saudi Arabia chairs the UN Women’s Rights Commission
Islamic Republic of Iran chairs the UN Disarmament Commission

Latest @UNWatch cartoon by Moshik Gulst pic.twitter.com/ArOANwanQY

— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) April 19, 2024

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