In response to a Human Rights Watch’s report on the oppressive policy of male guardianship in Saudi Arabia, one of the first two Saudi women to graduate from Columbia Journalism School has spoken up in defense of her country’s women, arguing that it’s important “to realize that not all Saudi women are the same.” In an article for TIME magazine, multimedia journalist Jasmine Bager wrote that while Human Rights Watch “highlighted some legitimate concerns about the way some Saudi women are being handled by male guardians,” her male guardian “has always been my greatest supporter.” Bager’s male guardian is her Makkah-born father. Bager says she’s never needed documents granting her permission to work, and that she has regularly traveled to other cities and countries without her father accompanying her. When she was accepted into Columbia University’s journalism program, she noted, her father was perhaps the most ecstatic of all those close to her.
While Bager acknowledges that the abuses mentioned in the Human Rights Watch report are “the reality of many,” she hopes that sharing her own experience will prevent Western readers from assuming that “every Saudi girl or woman is oppressed” and “every Saudi man is possessive.” Her father’s mother, she notes, is the strongest woman she has ever met. “She definitely wasn’t boxed-in,” wrote Bager. “Neither am I.”
Read the full story at TIME magazine.