in the summer of 2019American Carly Morris traveled to Saudi Arabia so that the father of his daughter could see the girl. Three years later, the woman is still blocked in the fundamentalist country due to the impossibility of getting the little girl out of there.
Like other foreigners who have had children with Saudis, Morris fights against discrimination against women in the kingdom’s family law. Shortly after the landing of mother and daughter in the capital, Riyadh, the ex-husband confiscated their passports, and then began the process of Saudi nationality for the girl with the aim of preventing her from leaving the country. Since then, Carly Morris lives an endless ordeal. After spending all her savings, the 34-year-old American was forced to borrow money and food to survive in a country whose laws do not allow her to work.
“I will not leave without my daughter”she told France Presse by phone, her voice choked with sobs.
Although Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman did expand women’s rights somewhat, including driving license and loosening guardianship rules, these reforms were accompanied by a vviolent repression against feminist activists. Recent reforms still “have not prevented men from continuing to have the last word when it comes to the family,” Hala al-Dosari, a Saudi researcher and women’s rights activist, told AFP.
“The problem is that absolute authority over children is given to the father“, Add. Morries’s situation »sadly, is not an isolated case«, reminds Bethany al Haidari of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation. »Many women and children are trapped in Saudi Arabia in similarly degrading conditions,« she tells AFP.
Investigated by Saudi authorities
Carly Morris is also being investigated by the Saudi authorities for “disturb public order” and is prohibited from traveling, according to an electronic notification consulted by AFP.
Her ex-husband’s family refused to comment on it and the Riyadh authorities did not respond to questions of the AFP. The US embassy in Saudi Arabia assures the agency that it follows the case of Carly Morris “very closely” and that it is “in regular contact with her and with the government” of the Gulf country.
Saudi Arabia recorded 150,000 marriages in 2020, including 4,500 between Saudis and foreigners, according to official statistics. In the same year, 4,200 divorces were recorded among those mixed unions.
In between foreigners married to saudissome choose to leave of the country, like Madison Randolph, who felt “like an animal in a cage” with a husband who wanted to “control everything.” When she found out that she was pregnant with her second child, she negotiated a one-month trip to the United States with her husband, but she never came back. She left behind a nine-month-old son. “It was a difficult decision,” this 23-year-old confesses to AFP by phone, but she “wanted to save myself, myself and the child she carried inside her.”