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HRW Executive Director Ken Roth pushing for Saudi women at London Olympics
Published in Bikya Masr on 21 - 06 - 2012

CAIRO: New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Ken Roth has issued a call for Saudi Arabian women to be allowed to participated in next month's London Olympics by the ultra-conservative Gulf Kingdom.
“The Olympics launch in a month and Saudi Arabia stands alone in the world banning women from sport,” the message on Thunderclap began. “By refusing to allow women on their national team, Saudi Arabia violates the Olympic Charter. London 2012: Don't let Saudi Arabia play unless their women can!”
Roth, in his message to both the world and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says that Saudi women have never before competed in the Olympics.
“Saudi Arabia's discriminatory policies against women and girls in sport clearly violate the Olympic Charter,” he continues.
That Olympic Charter states specifically that “the practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind. [Any] form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
Roth's HRW have been stalwarts in pushing for the Saudi government to allow women to participate in the global games, and while the IOC said last month it was optimistic over women being included, Saudi women remain on the outside looking in.
Roth adds that “Saudi Arabia's participation in the London Games should be conditioned on its playing by the rules,” which clearly states that a country that does have women on their team will be barred from participating.
The IOC Women's Chair Anita DeFrantz warned the country in 2010 that if female athletes are not allowed to participate, the country could face being banned from the global competition.
Dalma Rushdi Malhas, an 18-year-old Saudi woman, was the likely choice for the competition. She won a bronze medal at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics and has the ability to compete at the highest level.
The OIC required each country to field at least one woman in the Youth Olympics and Saudi Arabia included Malhas in its delegation.
In response to comments by the International Olympic Committee, last year Saudi Arabia said it would not oppose participation by a Saudi woman in the London Olympics – but that it would not invite her as part of its official team.


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