Friday, January 7, 2011

Saudi government offices- women's sections

Saudi-Arabia is a gender segregated society where government offices are no exception. Women are not allowed in the main buildings at all because their male family members are supposed to take care of most of the woman's issues. However there are specific much smaller sections for the women, usually located in a separate building or at the side or back of the main building.They are frustratingly burocratic places that operate with stone-aged policies.

There will be a male security guard watching the door and letting women enter into the female only office. The door is kept locked to prevent the dubious men prowling the area from running in to see unveiled women. Just kidding.
Inside are female security officers and other office workers in normal clothing. The places are pretty unorganised and confusing especially to a first time visitor. Just like in the men at the main buildings, the women are also forced to que to one window after another to get something done. Only difference is women's sections are not as crowded and the most important things can be done in the men's (main) office ONLY.
Women are required to sign all paperwork by stamping their thumb on the forms. Note even if the women are literate and fully capable of signing their own names this ancient practise is compulsory for them.
The illiteracy rate among the older generations and especially women is quite high. This of course poses great difficulties especially for women without a mahram's (male guardian) help. If no male family member is able to write documents for them or they are unwilling to help, there are places these women can go to to get their paperwork done. Men offering secreterial help to write documents can be found near to government buildings. They will have simple old school typewriters.
I overheard a woman accompanied by her daughter approach one to help make a complaint about her husband who had not showed up for a long time or given the family financial support.

Women in Saudi-Arabia are forced to be so dependant on men. Nothing can be done without a man, even to run a women's section of a government office!


The Burdened Mary said...

Think about all the jobs that could be made if women were able to manage the separate female section of these offices! And what are they thinking, having some things only done in the men's office? Sometimes I wonder if it is someone's job to make things as inconvenient as possible :P

I hope that woman was able to successfully make that is true that women are forced to be dependent on men and she could find herself in a very bad situation if there is some kind of emergency.

Heli said...

Reading your post, I started wondering how do you get things done if you are for example a european woman working in KSA and don't have any male relatives living there with you? Who do you send to take care of matters that only men are allowed to take care of?

Layla said...

Burdened Mary- You're absolutely right, so many jobs could be created by just allowing for all the matters to be taken care of at womens sections too!

Heli-Actually for a european woman working here there will be no need to go to these places. The sponsor (employee) takes care of all matters for them. Hope that answered your question!

UMAIR said...

dis is da reason why saudi arabia is among the list of peacful countries.. see robbery.. crime.. assasination.. self assasination.. and other crime rates upto 1% comparing different countries.. due to following islamic law.. and they are happy to follow these law.. no one is un happy.. just go and ask them.. dont talk here on internet go and ask thier ladies.. are you happy in this or wanna go western countries..?? listen thier answers then..