What a headline! Grabs your attention doesn’t it? Reading the headline one suspects the Saudis probably caught some women impersonating as men (or something similarly scandalous). But clicking on the headlines, what one reaches is a story (rather bland compared to heightened expectations) is this:
That’s it? Well, any one traveling to Saudi Arabia will be told or find out that it is a legal stipulation for female traveling to the Kingdom for pilgrimage- either Hajj or Umrah.
Women visitors and residents to Saudi Arabia apart from pilgrimage do not have this stipulation. However, they must be met by their sponsor upon arrival. Women who are traveling alone and are not met by sponsors have experienced delays before being allowed to enter the country or to continue on other flights. However, all women are required to travel for Hajj with a Mahram or legal male guardian. Women over the age of forty-five may travel without Mahrams with an organized group but they have to submit a no objection letter from their legal male guardians authorizing them to travel on their own.
First of all, these are a country’s laws and regulations and respected as such. Yes, if their women want to change it they should do something in this regard and get all the support and help. Go ahead, highlight the problem and write about the issue, highlight it, analyze it, criticize it, talk about it. But please, for the sake of the sanctity of journalism, do not misquote, tantalize and make an issue where there is none.
A good journalist wanting to write about the issue will only have to research a bit and come up with authentic cases of women’s rights being violated in Saudi Arabia and may work up an entire piece over it. By all means, do it. But in this instance, in no one else’s but Huffington Post’s own words, “Nigerian officials say 398 Muslim women pilgrims traveling to Mecca were temporarily held at a Saudi Arabian airport for traveling without male relatives…Saudi authorities held them for not traveling with a male relative due to a "communication gap."
And according to Nigeria's National Hajj Commission Spokesman, they were allowed to proceed with their pilgrimage Monday following diplomatic intervention.
In this instance the first headline has nothing to do with the news and blows it out of proportion ad well as insinuating something that did not take place.
Yes, all headlines are tweaked, worded and reworded to maximize readership and no harm there. But when it becomes an outright misquote or misinformation, the line has to be drawn.