During the World Tolerance Summit in Dubai, a Saudi Princess said women in her country enjoy more rights than women in the West.
Princess Lamia bint Majid said the West “could learn a lot from the kingdom about gender equality,'' demanding western media to “stop portraying Saudi women as victims.”
“The West always thinks that women in my country are vulnerable and not being given their rights,” Princess Lamia argued. “I remember being in a meeting in the UK recently where they were discussing the problem of unequal pay between men and women and I couldn’t help but smile to myself."
She explained that in Saudi, men and women earn equal pay for the same roles and are entitled to sue if they're being paid less. She pointed out that in the West this is still not the case despite years of discussion on the matter.
Princess Lamia said the West was fixated on appearances and clothing in the kingdom as opposed to deeper, more meaningful rights.
“I remember meeting with a newspaper in London and they were talking passionately about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia,” Princess Lamia said. “I asked them, ‘have you ever been to Saudi Arabia or actually spoken to any women from Saudi Arabia?’ and they said they hadn’t.”
But reactions online have reflected a level of skepticism about the princess' statements.
The issue of women's rights in Saudi Arabia has been in the spotlight since a number of legal reforms were enacted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of a bid to modernize the kingdom's image.
Some reforms included allowing women to drive and relaxing male guardianship laws but Saudi authorities have also cracked down on women's rights activists.
Among those detained in a crackdown last year is Loujain al-Hathloul, who is currently on trial alongside ten other female activists. Hathloul's family allege the campaigner has faced torture and sexual harassment while in prison.
The arrests of Hathloul and other prominent campaigners for Saudi women's right to drive came just weeks before a longtime ban on the practice was officially lifted.
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