PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Al-Baz's bravery unveils ugly Saudi truth

WASHINGTON: Journalistic luminary Bob Woodward may or may not have revealed some troubling facts about the Saudi royal family to America last week, but it was a brave young talk-show host who brought the Saudis face to face with one of their most galling truths.

WASHINGTON: Journalistic luminary Bob Woodward may or may not have revealed some troubling facts about the Saudi royal family to America last week, but it was a brave young talk-show host who brought the Saudis face to face with one of their most galling truths.

Thirty-two-year-old Rania al-Baz, well known for her vibrant, chatty demeanor on Saudi Arabia's The Kingdom This Morning, suffered a ruthless beating at the hands of her husband on April 10 - not her first. But rather than hide her wounds this time, she chose to release some very unpleasant pictures of her face to the media, at no small risk to her career and social status. Saudis accustomed to seeing the delicate al-Baz softly lighted and draped in stylish head coverings were understandably jarred. The pictures sparked a debate about the treatment of women in Saudi society that few would argue is long overdue. Unfortunately, Saudi hospitals don't keep records of abuse victims and most women who are admitted for treatment reportedly don't discuss the nature of their wounds. But according to the US State Department, "hospital workers report that many women are admitted for treatment of injuries that apparently result from spousal abuse." An AP story noted that husbands rarely meet disapproval for "reforming disobedient" spouses. But al-Baz's move rippled through the Saudi media and sparked nationwide discussion of the problem, leading more than one columnist to label her a hero. Her story struck a chord with a Saudi princess who stepped forward to pay al-Baz's bills. The outsize media attention eventually forced her husband to turn himself in. The young mother still needs time to recover before she can go back to work, but al-Baz has announced her intention to speak out about spousal abuse and rape when she returns - lending hope that the issues she's raised won't be lost behind the veil.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.