March 10, 2007

Saudi Daily Discusses the Phenomenon of Same-Sex Relationships in Some Saudi High Schools and Colleges


The Saudi daily Arab News recently reported on the phenomenon of lesbian relationships among students in some Saudi high schools and colleges.

The following is the full text of the article as it appeared on the Arab News English website:

Saudi Student: "Administration at Colleges Do Carry Out Random Inspections to Prevent Such Behavior From Happening"

"In a scene that many would describe as disgusting and contrary to the religious and cultural traditions of the Kingdom, sitting intimately in a corner of a classroom at a high school in Abha is Fawziya and Uhoud - two young female 'lovers.'

"The two girls speak romantically and exchange kisses in a relationship that is forbidden in Islam. Fawziya is in the final year of high school. She is engaged to a man and will be getting married the summer after graduation.

"'I'm not bothered by what people at school say about me. I’m just looking for an emotional relationship and I found that in Uhoud,' said Fawziya, adding that having love and feeling is
the key to life.

"'My relationship with my family isn’t very good and I don’t get the love and attention that I should be getting from them. My family is very disconnected and there are a lot of family problems,' she said, adding that she is not paying much attention to her coming marriage. Rather she says her attention is fixed on Uhoud.

"Uhoud, on the other hand, feels similarly and also pays very little attention to other students who frown at her relationship with Fawziya.

"Fawziya and Uhoud’s affair is not an isolated one. There are other girls involved in similar romances. Reem and Nura are one such couple, whose relationship began with a smile and an exchange of gifts. The relationship grew stronger and now both find it difficult to separate from each other. Their love for each other is so intense that Nura cried for Reem just before the beginning of the midterm seven-day school holidays. "There are other examples of such relationships blooming behind the walls of schools run by the Education Ministry. Sawsan Al-Ghamdi, a college student, said that the college squares, where students take breaks, have 'lovers' corners' where girls kiss and hug each other.

"'What is surprising is that there was a married girl in her seventh month of pregnancy who was pursuing other girls to satisfy her sexual needs. Administration at colleges do carry out random inspections to prevent such behavior from happening,' said Al-Ghamdi."

Saudi Student: "I Blame a Lack of Awareness Among Families Toward Their Daughters"

"Aisha Al-Qahtani, a student of Arabic language at the College of Education in Abha, said that she feels shocked at what she sees sometimes happening in colleges. Al-Qahtani said that some relationships develop into becoming very intimate. 'I blame a lack of awareness among families toward their daughters,' she said.

"Such relationships are strongly objected to, especially by students from religious backgrounds. Religiously observant students refuse to accept that sort of behavior. When they see couples sitting intimately together they disturb them by talking to them, giving them positive advice and letting them know that such behavior is wrong."

Education Department Source: "The Ministry Has Not Outlined Punishment for Students Who Are Caught in Such Relationships"

"An Asir Education Department source said that the ministry has not outlined punishment for
students who are caught in such relationships and added that the problem is not a new one and that it exists in other countries as well.

"'A student who is not receiving enough love and care from her family tends to look for love in
other students. At first she will admire a girl’s clothes or living standards. After that the relationship deepens and they exchange gifts and perfume to express their admiration for each other,' she said."

Saudi Specialist: "Such Girls Need Help and Treatment"

"Latifa Saleh, a social specialist in Abha, has received at least 10 cases involving girls having strong feelings for other girls. In a phone interview with Arab News, she said that same gender relationships are quite old and that they had become isolated to recently resurface again.

"'Families do not pay enough attention to their daughters. Such girls need help and treatment. This is a growing problem that we are now seeing in our schools and colleges,' she said,
adding that school administrators need to address the problem and speak to individuals involved. 'If that doesn’t work, then they should be transferred to a specialist for treatment.'

"Woman preacher Layla Mahran said that such relationships can potentially develop further and become physically intimate. 'They are against Islam and considered to be sexually perverse. The relationship between a man and a woman is considered normal and I am talking about marriage
here because that is part of human nature. The relationship between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is frowned upon by our religion and considered a big sin.'

"Mahran added that the problem is beginning to spread and said that she knows of a teacher who resigned because she was against some of the stuff that was happening inside the high school where she worked."

[1] Arab News, February 21, 2007.