Thursday, October 28, 2010

Saudi women aim for record pink ribbon, in captivity

It is so sad ~ because the Saudi women made this big ribbon for breast cancer awareness ~ but I thought the article were going to say that the women were wearing a pink ribbon on their clothes ~ as an act of rebellion.

That would constitute some sort of crime against morality in Arabia.

So the organisers 'bravely' wore pink ponchos and headscarves inside the stadium where the women gathered.

In an unprecedented event for women in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, women on Thursday were massing at a Jeddah stadium in a bid to form the world's largest-ever human pink ribbon to raise awareness about breast cancer.

More than 1,000 Saudis and foreign residents -- Indonesians, Americans, Filipinas and others -- had arrived at the education ministry facility by late afternoon, with organisers confident they would be able to top the previous record of 3,640 in Germany in 2007.

The women were flocking into the stadium dressed in the ubiquitous all-black, shroud-like Muslim abaya robe which women are compelled to wear in public in the kingdom.

But inside, as the evening event gained momentum at the start of the Muslim weekend, organisers said they would all don pink ponchos and scarves as they massed together in the shape of the global symbol of breast cancer awareness.

Bowing to the Islamic regime's strict rules keeping men and women separated, men were not allowed to view the event.

"I came with my sister to find out more about breast cancer," 25-year-old Hanan Jassim said.

"My mother is infected with the disease, so we want to receive more information and we support those who are afflicted."

Housewife Sawsan Abdul Latif, 40, was there with her daughter, a medical student.

"I liked the idea and I wanted to see it happen, particularly as it is a global event held for the first time in the kingdom."

The organisers were aiming for a turnout of 10,000 women, which would almost certainly set the standard for women's activism in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

Even small rallies are rare in Saudi Arabia, where the government bans protests and restricts public activism.

Women are doubly challenged, because, according to Saudi tradition and its strict form of Islam, they cannot move around without the approval of a male guardian and are not permitted to drive.

Moreover, women have almost no high positions in government to advance their interests.

Only one woman serves as a minister -- the deputy minister of education -- and none are full members of the consultative Shura council.

The human ribbon attempt was organised by the Riyadh-based Zahra Breast Cancer Association and promoted by the activist Princess Reema bint Bandar, daughter of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington.

"Let it be known that as of this day, ignorance is no longer an excuse and no woman should be allowed to be left to suffer in silence," Reema said at the launch of the awareness campaign which was to culminate in Thursday's rally.

Breast cancer is the most-diagnosed form of cancer in Saudi Arabia, accounting for 12.4 percent of all cancers and 23.6 percent of cancers among women, according to a study by the Saudi Cancer Registry.

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