Saudi Arabia: Woman loses custody of daughter after abusive ex-husband shows judge photos of her in bikini

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Saudi Arabia: Woman loses custody of daughter after abusive ex-husband shows judge photos of her in bikini
Jul 21, 2019
By Robert Spencer

Ms Vierra submitted video evidence “to the court that she said showed her ex-husband doing drugs and verbally abusing her in front of their daughter.” However, “the court accepted his testimony at face value, she said, while hers was legally worthless unless she could bring in male witnesses to back her up.” This is women’s rights under Sharia. But feminists are mum about cases such as this; to say anything would be “Islamophobic.”

“Woman loses custody of daughter in Saudi Arabia after bikini photos shown to judge,” by Vivian Yee, Independent, July 18, 2019:

Bethany Vierra did not think she was asking for much. First, she wanted a divorce from a husband she described as abusive. Then she wanted to secure custody of her 4-year-old daughter, Zeina. Then she wanted a court order to receive child support from her ex-husband, a businessman. But as an American woman living in Saudi Arabia, Ms Vierra has navigated a punishing legal maze ever since she first asked her Saudi ex-husband for a divorce in 2017, then opened custody proceedings in November.

Though she succeeded with the divorce, her custody battle appeared to reach a dead end on Sunday, when a Saudi judge awarded custody of Zeina to her father’s mother, who lives with him, despite video evidence Ms Vierra submitted to the court that she said showed her ex-husband doing drugs and verbally abusing her in front of their daughter.

“It’s like 10,000 times worse here because so much is at risk for women when they go to court,” Ms Vierra said, near tears, in an interview on Sunday. “I genuinely thought that there would still be justice served here, and I kind of put everything on that.”

Under Saudi law, which is based on Islamic law, or sharia, mothers generally retain day-to-day custody of sons until they turn 9, and daughters until they turn 7, while fathers remain their legal guardians. The kingdom announced last year that Saudi mothers could keep custody of children after a divorce without having to file a lawsuit, as they had previously had to do, unless the father was contesting custody.

But Saudi courts prioritise ensuring that children are raised in accordance with Islam. According to court documents, the judge accepted Ms Vierra’s ex-husband’s arguments that she was unfit to raise Zeina because she was a Westerner, and furthermore, because she ran her own business, a yoga studio, leaving her with little time to devote to her child.

“Since the mother is new to Islam and a foreigner in this country and embraces customs and traditions in the way she was raised,” the judge wrote in his ruling, “we must avoid exposing Zeina to these traditions.” Saudi authorities granted Ms Vierra residency in March after The Times wrote about her situation. At that point, she and her ex-husband had agreed that Zeina would live with her, with weekly visitations for him. But matters soon deteriorated, and her ex-husband began pursuing full custody in court.

He told the court that Ms Vierra, who is from Washington state but moved to the kingdom in 2011 to teach at a women’s university, did not speak Arabic well, and that she was an atheist. He also submitted photos of her in a bikini, in yoga pants and with her hair uncovered — evidence of suspect or outright forbidden dress in a country that requires women to wear loose abayas in public. Ms Vierra said the photos were taken in the United States and were from her private social media accounts.

The court accepted his testimony at face value, she said, while hers was legally worthless unless she could bring in male witnesses to back her up. She tried to counter with videos of him that she said showed him rolling a joint to smoke hashish, talking on the phone about his marijuana use and screaming at Ms Vierra, all with Zeina in the room.

Though he acknowledged his drug use, he accused her in court of giving him the drugs and of forcing him to say he was an atheist, both of which Ms Vierra denies. “It’s videos versus male witnesses,” Ms Vierra said. “They wouldn’t in some cases even look at the evidence that I had. It was just completely disregarded because he ‘swore to God.’ It’s all been infuriating.”

https://www.jihadwatch.org/2019/07/saudi-arabia-woman-loses-custody-of-daughter-after-abusive-ex-husband-shows-judge-photos-of-her-in-bikini
 
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