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Tackling Saudi’s taboos

Tackling Saudi’s taboos

A new television program in the kingdom vividly portrays the problems faced by Saudi women, hoping to bring them out in the open, reports Arab News.

April 20, 2009 10:06 by

Television viewers across the kingdom were recently subjected to the portrayal of a violent rape scene on one of the new television dramas being aired on MBC1. The three-minute scene showed two sisters being kidnapped by two men they met online, taken to a weekend home outside Jeddah, beaten and then violently raped.

While one girl is shown tearfully pleading for help, the other is seen having her abaya stripped away. The scene ends when one rapist threatens to circulate picture of the rapes via Bluetooth if they dare go to police.

The scene was a part of Asakinat fe Qolubena, (Dwellers in our Hearts) a new television series which illustrates how Saudi drama has become bolder in exposing social problems.

“Yes, we expected the program to be controversial,” said Hassan Assiri, executive director of the producing company Al-Sadaf for Audio and Visual Production. “Until recently, Saudi drama tended to tackle taboos only implicitly.”

This program aims to move these taboos into the public eye in order to make people realize that such violence is unacceptable.

“There have been some women who had similar shocking incidents inside the kingdom recently… so we are not making up stories!” he said.

The rape episode, entitled Eqab, was one of many others shown at the ongoing weekly series, which discusses many topics that have never been openly talked about, such as rape, AIDS and marital abuse. The topics mainly revolve around problems faced by women in Saudi Arabia.

Assiri justified choosing women to be the core of his drama.

“Some men still think that decent women should never leave their homes and if they do, then they deserve any danger that might happen,” he said.

Assiri refused to describe his series as “provoking.” “I think the Turkish soap operas, which are popular among Saudis, are bolder,” he said, adding that many people blame him for discussing social problems in his series.

“Violence against women persists in every country; why we are ashamed to admit it in our country?”

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