RIYADH - In light of the recent drive Saudi Arabia is undertaking to empower women, a member of the Shoura Council, Dr. Eqbal Darandari, who sits on the Human Rights Committee, spoke about the necessity of revoking the requirement of a guardian’s permission for Saudi women to travel.
The Shoura Council member strongly feels this is a step in the right direction as it tallies with the decree to allow women to drive. The two — in her opinion — are interminably connected.
Darandari believes it is the Shoura Council’s role to supervise and legislate, and as a member of that council she told Arab News: “It’s my pivotal duty to monitor human rights, whether it be for men or women, and to ensure that everyone is fairly entitled to their rights.”
Specialized in psychology, she faced many obstacles as an academic: “I was a member of the Strategic Planning Committee and I fought to instigate the first deanship position at King Saud University (KSU). I finally achieved that six years ago,” she told Arab News.
She admitted to speaking up for women specifically due to the complexities of their issues. “I am for justice, and there’s a lot of injustice against some women due to misconstrued traditions and practices, and limited religious outlooks, putting women in harm’s way as a result.
“I don’t think allowing women to travel will lead to an increase in the number of girls’ escape cases, which often occurs in broken homes lacking familial compatibility.”
She thinks it unreasonable to deal with this generation, which has great aspirations due to its openness to the world, in the same manner used to deal with older generations.
“Nowadays, adolescents believe they’re entitled to independence and trust, to lay claim to their rights. That, in turn, gives them great confidence in society and builds their sense of belonging, containing them rather than fueling their rebellion and disobedience.”
Dandarani added that she believes anyone who has reached adulthood, of either sex, is responsible enough for their actions. “A woman’s travel permit is unjust and is a discrimination between the two sexes.”
After studying traditional and modern scholars’ opinions within religious texts, Darandari brought up the debatable case of mahram (guardian) and the direct guardian’s consent. “Does a 40-year-old woman need the consent of her minor son? Can a conservative father refuse his daughter’s travels for education or treatment? What sort of message are we trying to send to the world?”
When not participating in Shoura Council activities, Dr. Darandari occupies a post as assistant professor in the department of psychology at KSU. She is also the supervisor of the evaluation and development unit (Qiyas).
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