She reveals how the women of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world, royalty or lower class, re subject to the outrageous age-old restrictions against women. Various issues were raised in the book and I’m going to mention a few which stirred immense anger and irritation in me. Sultana talks about how the women of her culture are objectified, disrespected, abused and given no identity. She questions the existence of the female population in her surroundings. She says that nor the birth neither the death of a girl/woman is recorded and this makes her feel as though she does not exist, she has no importance or identity of her own.
Sultana is aware that she lives in an unfair society, but hat does not stop her from questioning what is right and what is wrong. According to the Quran, men and women should enjoy equal rights but have different duties and different paths. But the men in todays world have chosen to follow the customs of the dark ages and misinterpreted what has been said in their holy book. Women in conservative societies are expected to bear with all the physical pain inflicted on them and not raise a voice in order to protect the men ofthe family. No heed was paid to the illegal activities of the men of the kingdom.
It is infuriating how the men in these cultures get away with all their misdoings. Sultana mentions how her brother raped a girl as littles as 8 years and when she complained to the elders, they brushed it off as ‘boyish fun’. Is this fair? Is this what women are born for? To bear with the horrendous abuse that the power and dominance crazed men subject them to and not say a word? It boils my blood to only read about all of this, can only imagine how horrifying it is for those people who go through this. For us it is just a story, for them, it is their reality.
Women in conservative countries like Saudi Arabia are denied the basic right to education. They have absolutely no say in decisions relating to their lives. They do not have the power to lead and give direction to their lives. All of them live like caged animals who aren’t allowed any freedom. They are tormented and scarred in the most barbaric ways. All this has no end, even if they cry for help, there is no one to listen since all the people of the community hold the same orthodox views. They cannot fight back as they fear the outcome Of their protest.
In such a community, men hold the authority and women lose their voice. Women born in the royal family might live a luxurious life, but they were still treated unjustly and demeaned by men in their society. If as a princess she had to go through all these horrible events what about the women from a lower class? What did they endure? The book also touches on subjects of arranged and premature marriages and honor killings. The author mentions how Sultana’s sister, who was just 1 6 years old, was made to marry a businessman who was more than triple her age in spite of her resistance.
Another instance mentioned was that of a friend being drowned In a swimming pool because she brought ‘sham‚ to the family. All of these are not unheard of in India. We have read numerous cases of all of these and it is ery common, even today, in the villages of India. This makes me question, is the Indian society any different from the Arab society? Doesn’t all of this happen even in India? Of course it does. Our country isn’t free from any of the above mentioned evils. No matter how much we deny it, the truth remains that the women of our society experience the same problems that the women in the Arab world do.
One may argue and say that India is developing and moving forward and women are no longer treated as inferiors but is this really the case? Aren’t We forming our Opinion based on how we, as individuals, are treated? Look at the millions of women in the villages. Those women face the cruelty of the male dominance till date. Female feticide, infanticide, premature marriages, honor killings, the practice of’sati’ are common sights in the villages of our country. One of the increasing atrocities against women is that of rape.
Every single day tens of women in our country are raped and there is very little that the system is doing to protect the women against these crimes. It is nauseating to read about how brutally the women are treated for no fault of theirs. Getting back to the book, Princess Sultana’s story is not for the faint hearted. In addition to giving personal information, she gives accounts of women who are starved or locked in rooms for what most people would consider minor violations, giving details how they are tormented and, in some cases, stoned to death, all within the confines of the laws of the land.
She even gives accounts of women who, after being sexually assaulted, are executed as punishment for supposedly seducing their rapists. The book is full of excruciating and agonizing stories and you might want to stop reading it at some point because it makes you feel disheartened, but at the same time you won’t be able to put it down ecause you want to know what will happen to Sultana. The book is full of stories and examples on the oppression of women but could only mention a few. In spite of the work being appreciated by the masses, the author faced a lot of criticism on the grounds of plagiarism and factual inaccuracies.
Jean Sasson was accused of plagiarism by Monika Adsani, an Austrian woman married to a Kuwaiti man. Adsani said that she had written a book called ‘Cinderella in Arabia’ which about the problems she had faced in fitting into a Kuwaiti family. She submitted her manuscript to Peter Miller who ejected it saying that it wasn’t ‘sensational’ enough. However, on reading Jean Sasson’s book, she saw that it had a lot of resemblance to the book she had written and her doubts were confirmed when she discovered that Peter Miller was Sasson’s agent.
Convinced her work had been plagiarized, Adsani filed a copyright lawsuit claiming that Miller and Sasson had stolen her manuscript, publishing it under Sassons name in order to sell more copies. In addition to plagiarism, Jean Sasson was also accused of being factually incorrect and making false statements about veiling, dowries, the permission of women to nter mosques and female circumcision. A lot of critics found it hard to believe that all of the accounts mentioned in the book were one hundred percent true.
They say that many of the events described are so horrific that they would have been widely known and condemned in Saudi Arabia. They explain that, in general, Saudis think the book is a fake and are disappointed and surprised that people from America believe the tales of cruelty are true. Having lived in the United Arab Emirates all my life, I have not seen such atrocities against women, which made me question the truthfulness of the book. However, personally think it is naive to say that such violence does not occur.
Saudi Arabia is known for its strict laws against Women and this would not be the first woman to speak out against such things. The irrefutable facts are women are mistreated in the countries by individuals. I have heard a lot of instances from friends and family about the mistreatment and stringent rules that prevail in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There is a possibility that a part of this book is a work of fiction because it is unbelievable that the story of a woman who is subjected to such ill-treatment hasn’t been heard of at all.