Saudi Women Can't Visit The Doctor Without A Man, New Rule States
The Saudi Arabian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) has issued an edict, orfatwa, that prevents ...
The Saudi Arabian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) has issued an edict, orfatwa, that prevents women from entering medical clinics without a male guardian.
This comes just after a Saudi womandied due to rules separating men and women. Amena Bawazir, a Master’s student at King Saud University in Riyadh, died of heart failure when male medics could not reach her in time in the female-only part of campus.
The new fatwa states that women can not visit doctors without their male guardians, or next of kin, which can be a husband, brother, father, son, or uncle.
“Islamic law does not permit women to visit their doctors without male guardians,” said Qais Al-Mubarak, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars. “Women are prohibited from exposing body parts to male doctors in Islamic law, especially during childbirth.”
“This does not include medical emergencies. Islamic jurisprudence makes exceptions,” he added.
The edict has met with mixed reactions by Saudi medical practitioners. One private hospital owner in Jeddah said the fatwa wouldn’t make much difference at his clinic, since most women attend their appointments with their male guardians anyway.
“We don’t see women coming to the hospital as un-Islamic and we usually don’t even see women coming alone, so we don’t have a problem with this new fatwa,” he said.
A Jeddah dermatology clinic, however, said that it would make female patients uncomfortable to visit with a man.
“We will not ask our patients to be accompanied by guardians unless we receive an official note from the ministry itself,” said the clinic’s owner.
Some Saudi women are irate about the new restriction.
“This is going to be a huge burden for us. Many of us don’t have male guardians. Those of us who do, can’t depend on them, as they have work and travel commitments,” Muneera Dawood told Arab News.
“Does this mean that I have to wait for my husband to be free to go on my weekly checkup? This is a serious matter. Going to the doctor is not a luxury like going to the hair salon,” said the stay-at-home mom.
Saudi Arabian woman dies after male medics stopped from entering female-only university campus
The family of a female Saudi student who died from heart failure said authorities at her university prevented medics from getting to her in time because of rules barring men from entering the women-only part of the campus, Saudi media has reported.
Al-Arabiya television's news website quoted Fahda Bawazir, the sister of Amena Bawazir, as saying that the ambulance arrived at a campus gate shortly after her sister became ill at around 11am.
"But the medics were not allowed to enter the campus until 1pm", she said, and instead university authorities prevented them from entering, making them wait outside until a gate was secured in a way "that did not allow the (male) medics and females in the building to mix."
The King Saud University in Riyadh, where the girl was studying for a Master's degree, has strenuously denied the accusation and said Ms Bawazir, who had a history of heart disease, received rapid medical attention after suffering a stroke last Sunday, causing her heart and lungs to stop functioning.
A university spokesman said campus medics attended the girl and when they failed to revive her they called in medics from a local hospital, according to the sabq.org news website.
It quoted the spokesman, Ahmed al-Tamimi, as saying those medics arrived at the scene at 12.45 pm, ten minutes later and transported Amena to the university hospital where she was pronounced dead at 13.39 pm.
"As the university issues this correction, it asserts its responsibility towards all male and female students and its serious efforts to preserve their lives and safety," Tamimi said.
Saudi Arabia adheres to the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, which forbids mixing between men and women and requires sexes to be segregated at all Saudi universities. Women's movements are restricted, often requiring the permission of a male guardian.
Women also have separate seating areas and even separate entrances in "family" sections of restaurants and cafes where single males are not allowed to enter.
It was not until September last year that Saudi Arabia's cabinet passed the passed a ban on domestic violence and abuse against women for the first time in the Kingdom history.
The incident echoes the 2002 tragedy that saw 15 girls die inside a school in the holy city of Mecca when police prevented them from leaving the burning building because they were not wearing appropriate Islamic dress.