The story of Dina Ali Lasloom, the Saudi women who disappeared at the Philippines airport while she was in transit to Australia, is yet another case of nonexistent women’s rights in the Gulf kingdom.
Twenty-four year-old Lasloom was on her way to Australia to live a life of freedom when she was stopped at Ninoy Aquino International Airport by officials — who have now denied all knowledge that they saw Lasloom.
However, activists at Saudi Arabian Female Empowerment (SAFE) claimed Lasloom, who was traveling alone without a male guardian, a big no-no in KSA, was a passenger of Philippines Airlines flight PR 669 from Kuwait to Manila. It is clear that she did make her way to the Philippines airport but officials there were ordered by the Saudi embassy to extract her when she arrived and confiscate her passport.
A tearful video of the woman made its way on social media where she was begging for her life and claiming she would be killed if she were sent back to her country.
The last that was heard of Lasloom was in a video where she was yelling “he’s not my father, he’s not my father” as a Philippines officials tried to hand her over to a Saudi man.
What happened next was Lasloom’s worst nightmare. Activists claim Lasloom was brutally beaten, her arms and legs bound, her mouth duct-taped and she was wrapped in a sheet “like a mummy” as the men kidnapped her and sent her back to Jeddah on a Saudi Airlines flight.
In Jeddah, activists report she was placed on a wheelchair and taken away. She has not been heard from since.
No sympathy seems to be forthcoming from locals, who demand Lasloom be killed for “dishonoring her family” by attempting to escape the tyrannical Saudi laws.
Yet, Lasloom is far from the only woman whose life is in now in jeopardy, thanks to the harsh, inhumane laws of Saudi Arabia. For most Saudi women, this feeling of terror and helplessness is part of their everyday lives.
In Saudi Arabia, men are the permanent, legal guardians of all women. Women cannot study, marry, drive a car, get divorced or even travel without the formal permission or companionship of her father, brother, son or husband.
It is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive cars, let alone bikes or even ride horses for that matter, and the government isn’t even willing to start a rational discourse on the subject. It's a country where women who step out of their homes without the traditional full length robe and hijab are arrested, flagellated and receive death threats; where women need the permission of their husbands to file for divorce; and where people actually believe female employment causes divorce.
In fact, the government even has no compunction in arresting men who speak up for the rights of women.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters