Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Abused Popular TV-Host Escapes the KSA

It is now official: the popular Saudi TV talk show hostess Rania Al-Baz has escaped and is not going back to the KSA where she is not feeling safe any more.

Rania, who fled the KSA after a near-death assault by her husband (see her face photographed by her father) has described how she left the country hiding in a truck going to Bahrain, from where she continued her journey to Europe.

Earlier last week, she was prevented from flying out from the airport in Jeddah. She was going to Paris for a follow-up plastic surgery.

Rania was giving interviews from Paris last week but the issue has not been mentioned by Saudi media until now, which according to blogger The Religious Policeman means the government has approved the story.

Says the Guardian:
By the time she was in her early 20s, Rania al-Baz had become one of the best known and best loved faces in her home country of Saudi Arabia. As presenter of a programme called The Kingdom this Morning on state-owned television, her hair was always covered by a hijab, as is required, but her face remained uncovered, and she would choose headscarves of defiantly flamboyant colours to cover her immaculately styled hair.

...suddenly, on April 13 2004, Baz disappeared from the airwaves. When she emerged two weeks later, her face was all over the newspapers, but it was barely recognisable. Her husband had savagely assaulted her, slamming her face against the marble-tiled floor of their home until it suffered 13 fractures. He was disposing what he assumed to be her dead body when she showed signs of life and, panicking, took her to hospital, where doctors gave her only a 70% chance of survival.

...after she recovered, she decided to permit the photographs to be published, thus doing what no woman in the Kingdom had ever done. Of course, there was nothing particularly unusual about her bruises: Baz was a victim of one of the world's most common, and least punished crimes. But in Saudi Arabia especially, Baz had shattered a wall of silence about domestic violence.

Baz would also go on to divorce her husband - almost unheard of in Saudi Arabia, where divorce is invariably the other way round - and win custody of her children, again in defiance of precedent.

[Rania] adds, "none of this is about a religion, it is about society. What happened to me happens to women all over the world. But you can take what happens to women all over the world, and in Saudi Arabia, multiply it by ten.

"It is a society in which we have the worst of all worlds. We have a private, closed society according to the Bedouin tribal system, mixed with Givenchy and the invasion of technology from the west.”

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