HRW calls on IOC to take up Saudi discrimination against women in sports

Published: April 6, 2012
Saudi Arab's Prince Nawwaf al-Faisal ruled out the possibility of active women's teams in the country. PHOTO: AFP

Saudi Arab's Prince Nawwaf al-Faisal ruled out the possibility of active women's teams in the country. PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT: There was no “female sports activity” in the past nor will there be any now, were the comments issued by the Saudi sports minister and head of the Saudi National Olympic Committee on April 4, as he shot down hopes of Saudi women athletes due to debut at the games in London. The Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged the IOC to put Saudi discrimination against women in sports on the agenda of its next executive board meeting in Quebec on May 23.

A statement published on the Human Rights Watch (HRW) website, quoted Prince Nawwaf al-Faisal said that Saudi Arabia will not support women in practicing sports.

“At present, we are not embracing any female Saudi participation in the Olympics or other international championships,” the HRW statement quoted Prince Nawwaf.

Chistoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at the Human Rights Watch said that Saudi Arabia had just given official confirmation to Saudi Arabia’s discrimination against women in sports. “If the International Olympic Committee was looking for an official affirmation of Saudi discrimination against women in sports, the minister in charge just gave it,” said Wilcke. “It is impossible to square Saudi discrimination against women with the noble values of the Olympic Charter.”

Human Rights Watch called on the IOC to take up Saudi discrimination against women in sport at its next executive board meeting in Quebec on May 23.

“The time is running out for hope that dialogue with Saudi authorities will lead to a change in discriminatory policies,” Wilcke said. “It is clear that a symbolic participation in the London 2012 games by Saudi women athletes does not mean an end to the systematic discrimination against women practicing sports in Saudi Arabia and in international competitions.”

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Uzair
    Apr 6, 2012 - 6:48AM

    Makes perfect sense. Sports are for humans, right? And we all know women are less than men and definitely not human. Their job – as far as the Arabs are concerned – is making babies, and not raising their voice when their husband marries a second, third, and fourth time.


  • Amer
    Apr 6, 2012 - 8:18AM

    This is a hopeless regime.


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Apr 6, 2012 - 10:44AM

    The Saudis are more likely to launch a jihad against HRW via their unofficial instruments – Al Qaeda, than to grant women the right to participate in sports. Anyway, the OIC should kick out Saudi Arabia from its organization and deny them the right to participate in any sports but that won’t happen as a few dollars thrown at the right places will soothe any feelings of double standards and hypocrisy.


  • whoever
    Apr 6, 2012 - 12:24PM

    That’s why they are Saudis…. you know , these r unislamic activities , how can they allow it ?


  • Mj
    Apr 6, 2012 - 1:03PM

    Why does the world still have any respect for this country? Remember how the apartheid regime of South Africa was treated? S.A. needs to be dealt with in the same way for its policy of discrimination and bigotry.


  • gujranwala789
    Apr 6, 2012 - 2:21PM

    This is saudi arabia´s internal matter, why foreign people are poking their noses in the internal matters of saudia.


  • Helping Saudi Women
    Apr 6, 2012 - 3:12PM

    Hello everybody! I am setting up a Fund to help Saudi women fight the regime for their freedom and fundamental rights! Join hands please!


  • AIN
    Apr 6, 2012 - 3:13PM

    Hopeless…..And S.A is role model for most of the muslims…..


  • Brajanarayan
    Apr 6, 2012 - 5:37PM

    About the women taking to sports, the views of any Government is final. What is needed is the IOC should discuss the matter with the concerned Government, understand their point of view, put its own point of view and try to pursuade. It can not be done overnight .People live in different societies with different socio-cultural and religious back-grounds, which in turn shape their Government’s policies on any issue. Something, which apparently look wrong to others may appear very correct to someone else. What is needed is engagement and negotiations. Hopefully, the World will see one day Saudi women winning a good number of olympic gold medals, more than present winners.


  • Saudi
    Apr 7, 2012 - 5:09PM

    Who is Olympic committee to interfere in a country’s internal matters? People in Saudi Arabia are well off and know their rights. if they realize that some thing wrong or oppressive is happening with them, they will come out and will ask international community for help. and that guy who is human rights watch specialist for middle east referred that Saudi Arabia is not obeying the olympic charter. I ask him what is the significance of olympic charter in front of our divine book and our culture and norms? and all of you guys are stuck in western propaganda and believe that saudis are doing wrong. the day when they will do something that is unbearable for the public we saudis will come out and situation will not be different from cairo!


  • Raj
    Apr 7, 2012 - 6:00PM

    @Saudi – Great. Then don’t participate in Olympic and other global events if you want to live on your own.


  • Sonya
    Apr 7, 2012 - 6:48PM

    That is what the citizens of Syria, Egypt, Bahrain and Palistans etc are demanding from Al Saud of Hejaz that they should stop interfering in other countries affairs.


  • Big Rizvi
    Apr 7, 2012 - 7:38PM

    Do they think women are some kinds of furniture that they are doing this? Women of Arabia! Please stand up for yourselves and demand equal rights from your oil-stinking, land-grabbing clergy of Arabia!


  • Bilal
    Apr 7, 2012 - 10:57PM

    What HRW has to do with all this ?This is dirty propaganda campaign to build pressure on a islamic country to dump their norms and culture.

    This all women right’s issue ultimately end up with anti Islam propaganda.


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