In a move that is both hilarious and sad, a Saudi television station censored the hair of German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to the Islamic nation — as she did not wear the customary head scarf and full robe that women are forced to hide themselves under.
Ironically, Saudi Arabia is the newest addition to the United Nation’s Women’s Rights Commission.
Sunday marked Merkel’s first trip to the nation in seven years. While visitors are not legally required to wear the customary coverings, they are still advised to do so in order to avoid possible arrests.
Saudi Arabia’s addition to the commission, which is “exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women,” has been mocked globally. Even the far-left Washington Post referred to it as a “bit of a slap in the face for women’s rights.”
“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said on Twitter after the announcement. “It’s absurd — and morally reprehensible.”
Neuer elaborated in an interview with France 24 that Saudi’s addition was a “black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights.”
“Saudi discrimination against women is gross and systematic in law and in practice. Every Saudi woman,” said Neuer, “must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia bans women from driving cars. Why did the UN choose the world’s leading oppressor of women to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women?”
“Today the UN sent a message that women’s rights can be sold out for petro-dollars and politics,” said Neuer, “and it let down millions of female victims worldwide who look to the world body for protection.”
Women in Saudi Arabia, beyond being forced to hide themselves under all black garb leaving only their eyes exposed, are not allowed to drive cars. They are also not permitted to get married, work, or travel without the permission of a male guardian.
“Saudi Arabia’s interest in occupying one of the Commission’s seats allocated to the Asia-Pacific region is an indication that the country wants to play an active role in the work of this important body,” the United Nations said in a statement to Fortune about the decision to permit Saudi Arabia to join the commission.
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