Women human rights between Saudi and Norway!!!

Posted by Dana Mahmoud on 17. May 2012 in Humanrights, Politics |

I was raised in the Middle East, for a middle class educated family; at the end of 2008 I moved to Norway with my family. I always think and compare, between the two regions. Europe vs. the Middle East!

I always ask myself, what have changed in me and what didn’t?  How the Norwegian society did influence my personality? Was it an upgrade or a downgrade step for me? How do I perceive things happening around?

I got to hand it to Norway, it made me a person who got the courage to share my personal stories publicly, not only with my close friends but also with strangers. Maybe because before that, my life was stable and kind of boring, with nothing worth telling, or probably because I feel free to say what I want “it doesn’t always mean someone will listen or act” but at least I’m given this opportunity!

Today I watched this video for Manal al-Sharif, speaking about her cause and how she is fighting for more rights for women in Saudi,  it made me think, why I empathize with her? Why I feel she is speaking about me? I’m free to wear what I want. What she was saying feels so relevant, Why?  For Heaven sake I’m living in NORWAY, not in Iran or Saudi. Why I’m feeling oppressed and weak? Why I’m wishing for the first time I have a male figure in my life to rescue me, my mother and my sister?  I have never felt this way before coming to Norway, and always felt I can do it all, I don’t need a man to help me achieving something, I have always seen men as partners and not an extra capable person than myself!

I agree with Manal, living in Saudi under these circumstances is not easy task and diffidently not an option for me. I can’t live there, it’s almost impossible for me to be told what to do, especially something I don’t see the point behind doing it. Yes most likely you are going to call me spoiled and stubborn. But no, I have always had a choice, and always had the power to decide for myself since I was about 12 years old.

Manal neglected to clarify that life in other Arabic or Islamic countries are not the same as in Iran or Saudi, but this is not the point.

When I saw her I asked myself, is it the religion of the country that’ll define whither women are empowered or oppressed? If Yes, I’m not living in a religion oriented country, plus freedom of religion is given to all in Norway, so this is not the main reason!


Is it just the feeling someone has, that they are enjoying a certain amount of power to do and say what they wish, knowing that no one will stop them, especially when it comes to the weakest in the society who have few advocates?

Of course excuses like religions, political agendas or laws can always be used to justify these actions against women, but If I could speak to Manal I would tell her she is not the only one who is feeling oppressed. I have never felt so helpless in my whole life until I was not allowed to do things I like and enjoy them anymore, Why?because I was considered a second class human in the Norwegian society or this is the way government portrait us!

Speaking of driving I have always been able and allowed to drive since I was 20 years old, I bought my own brand new car when I was 22, but still I can’t do so in Saudi, oh I mean in Norway because I lack the driving permit and in order to get one, I need a valid ID, which is the main reason why I have come to this country.

mmm, maybe I should share a little bit about why I came here, and why I have left my previous life. I came to Norway to seek a homeland…I’m a Palestinian, who was born without a state that I can reside in legally, so yes, I came to seek a life, not a well-financed life, and not a fancy luxurious life, but only a stable one, without fearing being expelled outside for not keeping a job, or not having a valid passport.

I’m not allowed to study because I’m not a Norwegian, I’m not allowed to go out and shop as much as I wish for because I have very limited resources and the law doesn’t allow me to expand them and work to make my own living, comparing to others I’m at the bottom of the ladder, Just like Manal and her generation, suffering from discrimination!

Moral of the story, it doesn’t matter which part of the world you live in, the question should read like this: Does the government in your country seek empowering women in general despite all elements or they are only seeking fake international status? For example: If the Norwegian government genuinely believe in empowering women and not cherry picking whom should be protected and who shouldn’t, Norway in 2012 should have Zero undocumented, paperless women and not about 18,000 ones with many women and children among them-It’s just my opinion!

Manal cannot do what she wishes to do because she is not a male, and I can’t do what I wish to do because I’m not Norwegian!

She is being bullied because of her gender and I’m being bullied because of my weakness and my not being able to defend myself!

Sorry Manal, I know the Saudi laws are not fair to women but I can also make the same statement about the Norwegian asylum laws, I still feel you are luckier than me because you are still able to travel around the world and tell audience what you are suffering from. While all what I have got is my little computer screen, and a glimpse of hope that one day women around the globe will be treated with respect and enjoy more rights than they do today!

Worldwide women’s rights need to be re-evaluated, in my opinion!

Although I would like to start with countries that are so proud of their achievements in this field…The ones who consider themselves the crème de la crème when it comes to protecting women human rights 😉



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My family is originally Palestinian from Haifa. My grandparents (from both sides) were born in Haifa, which is now part of Israel. In 1948, during the conflict that followed the 1947 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (11) ‘Future Government of Palestine’ (also called the Partition Plan for Palestine), my grandparents, on both sides, left for safety to Basra, Iraq. For 6 months they were in flight because of the violence and death that broke out in the Haifa region. Then they moved to Baghdad, Iraq. I call myself a Palestinian Iraqi female. I used to hold an Iraqi document that allowed me to legally live in Iraq and other countries, including the UAE – United Arab Emirates. This document was valid for me and my family until 2006. As a result of the war my family and I became stateless. In 2008, I applied for asylum, in Norway, for myself and my family. But we were refused legal permissions. In the process I applied with the UDI – the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration. We were refused after 22 months of waiting. I appealed the decision, but it was rejected. Why? For two reasons: Because our 1948 document of permissions from Iraq had been discontinued. Also, because we came to Norway, not from Iraq, but via the United Arab Emirates. Because of this, were not considered war victims. we could not return to the UAE or to Iraq legally. We feel we have been left with no life. We have no passports. No way of legal travel. No valid residency. No official recognition from the countries of our past. No recognition inside the country of our future – Norway where we now live. Now our future is vague. We are adrift, in pain, with no legal place to go. We are stateless and paperless. For the full story please check:

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