As I promised in earlier posts, here is one of the many events that I lived through and one which has helped shape me into the woman I am today. This is the first of 7 posts I have written about in my personal blog under the Violated chapter title.
The decision to repeat these posts here was not made with ease and it is not aimed at gaining anyone’s sympathy or vote. Rather to cast some much-needed focus onto what happens routinely to many women who live under Islam.
Remember that this is my personal experience and I have met many men and women who have lived similar if not the same experiences. No sweeping generalizations are made or should be assumed here.
At the age of 22 and in my final year of medical school I would, once again, experience the unimaginable and horrifying so-called justice system/ Sharia law of Saudi Arabia. Here I was, a keen and enthusiastic young Doctor to be with her bright future close by as my exams were a mere 2 months away before I would finally receive that amazing diploma and add the to letters M.D to my last name.
What an accomplishment and what excitement that held for me. Here I am studying my butt off and working while I did that as the last 3 years were mainly clinical ones where the medical students would start doing night duties. I was smart, loved what I did and always enjoyed a good puzzling case that kept me up all night at the hospital.This helped me as the abuse in my home was as always-ongoing.
Yes, I was 22 and you would think I would be independent at that point but not in Saudi where women have to live with their legal guardian who must be male. In my case, as I was single, that male was my father and his wife.
The days and nights I spent away from home were always a blessing. Up until that day when I was post call (after a 24 hour hospital shift) and it was time for me to go home to rest up. So, I stood there all ready for my driver to come pick me up where he usually does at the hospital’s back door.
I waited…and waited…and waited, and he never showed up. So, me being as tired as I was and after standing under the hot Saudi sun for over an hour, I was ready to either get a cab and go home risking what I knew the consequences would be, as women could not be alone in cabs, or to simply call home to get my stepmother telling me that the driver is too busy to come pick me up.
As I was standing there contemplating, hot, dehydrated and sleep deprived I heard my name being called. I looked around and realized that a good colleague of mine, who happened to be a male, who was on call with me was leaving at that point. He offered to drop me home after I told him how long I had been waiting. He knew about my family situation as we frequently conversed.
YES! please get me home! I said and off I went without any hesitation. I just wanted to go home and sleep. So I hopped in the seat next to him because we thought that way if the religious police were to see us they would not suspect much hopefully and off we went. The drive from the hospital to my home was a good 45 minute one and you would have to pass by some of the stations the religious police resided in.
Knowing that my friend who I will refer to as (M) had an alternative route planned out so we would not get in any trouble was good enough for me. As he drove we conversed, joked, laughed and for a good 20 minutes I felt happy and free.
Then I saw something that distressed me. We drove by a mosque and I saw a guy standing next to his car stare intently into our car and at us. This man was one of the religious police with no doubt so I immediately expressed my concern to M but he said “Don’t worry, he is on foot and we are in a car”. I didn’t think much of it as I agreed with M’s point thus we drove on.
Then it happened…
Suddenly 4 large GMC’s approached us from behind and immediately surrounded M’s car as we continued to drive. We became boxed in by one car in front of us, one behind us, one on either side and this box narrowed on us to the point that we had to come to a stop or become part of a major motor vehicle accident.
Within 2 seconds of the car stopping a flood of large men with beards exited the GMC’s and forcefully opened our doors pulling each of us out of the car with a shower of accusations, insults and questioning. I didn’t know what to say or do…
The best way to describe the next few hours of my life would be intense horror, shock and an immanent feeling of doom. I saw my pathetic little life end right then and there. The dread that was instilled in me by the horror of the situation and these men consumed the essence of who I thought I was.
It was then and there that I realized that these, otherwise, insignificant hateful kidnapping criminals now had complete control over my life as well as M’s. I was called a whore, an infidel (kafra) and every other name they felt the right to hawk at me. I watched M get beaten up like a criminal then we both got placed in separate cars and locked in so we could not jump out or escape.
We literally had just gotten kidnapped in full day light off a main street in Riyadh.
So now, I am in the back seat of a moving car that I was forced into by 2 strange men that have been showering me with insults and unbelievable accusations since they kidnapped me. I am sitting in the back with my face fully covered, by force, and they are demanding to know what my full name is, where I live, where I study, what my student number is, what my father does, what I was doing in the car with M and what he was to me.
The state I was in at that point of my life cannot be described. You would have to look death in the eyes to understand how I felt. I recall thinking that if only they would open a window I could just throw myself out of the car and perhaps get run over and die.
Yes, death was an option for me right about then. I wanted to die rather than spend another second in the presence of these raging mad sick gorillas but unfortunately death was not interested in me at that point.
to be continued…