HomeOpinionWhether women are being treated better in Saudi Arabia than in India?

Whether women are being treated better in Saudi Arabia than in India?

When the question will be asked “Whether women are being treated better in Saudi Arabia than in India?”

Most of the people would presume that the obvious answer to this question is Saudi Women are treated worse than women in India. I will give you example story of two ladies with a common link and how they are treated in both the societies. The purpose is not to generalize or pass any judgement, but to make some of us if not all to think together as a society.


This is Rafia Naaz. a Young Yoga instructor from Jharkhand

Image credit http://www.jagran.com

The young talented girl is an acclaimed, Yoga instructor and teaches in a school. Now this apparently didn’t go down well with Mullahs in the locality and they created a furor saying she is doing an unislamic act.

The mullahs followed it with Fatwas, as if they are some ordinances[1]. if that didn’t stop the award winning Yoga teacher, the jihadis followed it up with death threats.[2] Emboldened by lack of action by authorities, the radical elements actually went to her home, pelted stones[3]. Thankfully, she was granted police protection subsequently.

If you are thinking that would have had any effect on the radical elements, You are wrong.

Just a day or two later when the valiant girl was giving her live interview to couple of National TV channels, some people from nearby ghetto started created commotion right in front of her house intimidating her father. On live TV. Yes.

Here is the video.

How much a girl can take, she broke down. Perhaps the helplessness of our system to reign in on radical elements and the audacity and brazenness of the bearded fellows broke the threshold of her resilience.

I have no grudge against clerics who issue fatwas for they are trying to become relevant when education is making them fast irrelevant in our society. It’s the lack of police system and the indifference of our society, that perturbs me. Most of our folks scurried away from the bullying, passing it off as a “Muslim” issue.

Let’s see what’s going on in Saudi Arabia.


She is Nouf Mohammed Al-Marwaai, a Saudi Yoga Instructor.

Image Credit www.siasat.com

This lady in the past decade or so, has made her name as a Yoga instructor.

These are her comments to an Arab News about 8 years back:

“Continuing the practice regularly for years, I found that the practice and the knowledge are linked with many facts in psychology and science. Practicing it is not just an exercise, but its effects are far reaching, more than our brain can imagine.

For a long time, Muslims had shunned yoga because of the perception that it is linked to the Hindu and Buddhist religions. She argues that yoga was the practice of people living in the pre-Buddhist era, over 5,000 years ago.
“It is more a lifestyle and a science than a religion. Especially Hatha yoga, which involves physiotherapy, lengthening and stretching exercises with breathing techniques which affects and stabilizes the nervous and endocrine systems deeply and creates harmony in the brain,” she said

And how did the most conservative society (alleged) reacted to her? Did they punish her, stone her?


She was invited to the King Abdulaziz University to lead a three-day stress buster yoga workshop[5]. As it turned out, it was a big hit especially with the ladies.
She was engaged with mental enhancement programs for gifted girls under the supervision of Ministry of Education from time to time. Quite like Rafia, she was in media spotlight, although not as a victim but as an exponent of a new art. Not surprisingly she became first choice to address seminars and lectures about yoga and Ayurveda. The Saudi Govt enabled her to work with reputed companies like P&G, Unilever etc. to hold yoga sessions.

But the big thing was about to happen. After years of empirical studies on benefits of Yoga, The Saudi Govt officially approved Yoga.

Saudi Arabia approves Yoga as a sports activity

All about Yogacharinie Nouf Marwaai the woman behind Yoga in Saudi

The most orthodox Islamic society took a pragmatic decision initiated by a lady. And here the goons (right under nose of police in full media glare) are hounding a young helpless girl forget about appreciating or promoting her talents.

I am not trying to insinuate which country is better or which is worse, for it will be unfair to compare a democracy with a monarchy. It was more about knowing that we still have to iron out few wrongs in our society. There are people in our society who are undermining democracy using the democratic principles as the shield.

The issue of women is not a community issue, it’s a national issue. How can we let such things happen in our society to women and then claim to be better? The silence of lambs doesn’t indicate everything is okay. There are voices still unheard, throttled, and silenced in our society. We have to keep our ears to the ground.


[1] ‘Fatwa’ on woman for teaching yoga while Muslim – Times of India

[2] Ranchi: Muslim girl receives death threats for teaching Yoga

[3] After threats, stones pelted at Muslim woman yoga teacher’s house

[4] Nouf Mohammed Al-Marwaai: Saudi yoga instructor

[5] Nouf Mohammed Al-Marwaai: Saudi yoga instructor

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