Editor’s note: Nina Burleigh is an investigative journalist and author who has reported frequently from the Middle East. Her last book was “The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Italian Trials of Amanda Knox.”
(CNN) — A friend of mine who works in advertising recently got called for a job in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Knowing I have traveled in the Middle East, she asked me if she should take it. I said it might be interesting in terms of cultural anthropology, but don’t expect to enjoy yourself. The social and legal restrictions on women are rampant.
In the end she turned it down, and one big reason was her trepidation about how she would be treated.
Western women work in the notoriously misogynistic Gulf States, mostly in PR for governments and doing business with multinationals. But the biggest contingent of foreign women working in those countries — the millions of Bangladeshi, Indonesian and Filipino servants — are off the radar. The events of this past week should be regarded as their, and the native women’s, silent scream.
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