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Fri 7 Feb 2014 06:00 PM

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Family blames Saudi segregation rules for student's death

University denies claims that death caused after ambulance men barred from women-only area

Family blames Saudi segregation rules for student's death
King Saud University in Riyadh. (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

The family of a Saudi woman student who died of heart problems has said her university prevented medics from getting to her in time because of rules barring men from the women-only part of the campus, Saudi media reported.

The King Saud University in Riyadh denied the accusation and said Amena Bawazir, who had a history of heart disease, received quick medical attention after suffering a stroke last Sunday, causing her heart and lungs to stop functioning.

The case has revived memories of a 2002 incident in which 15 schoolgirls in Jeddah died in a fire after the Saudi morality police sent them back into the building because they were not veiled.

Al-Arabiya television's news website quoted Amena's sister, Fahda Bawazir, as saying that medics arrived at a campus gate shortly after her sister fell ill at around 11 a.m.

"But the medics were not allowed to enter the campus until 1 p.m.," she said, in a report published late on Thursday.

She said university authorities kept them outside until a gate was secured in a way "that did not allow the (male) medics and females in the building to mix."

A university spokesman denied there was any delay, saying campus medics attended the girl and when they failed to revive her they called in medics from a local hospital, according to the sabq.org news website.

It quoted the spokesman, Ahmed al-Tamimi, as saying those medics arrived at the scene at 12:45 p.m., 10 minutes after they were called. Failing to revive her on the spot, they took Amena to the university hospital where she was pronounced dead at 13:39 p.m.

"As the university issues this correction, it asserts its responsibility towards all male and female students and its serious efforts to preserve their lives and safety," Tamimi said.

Saudi Arabia adheres to the Wahhabi brand of Islam, which forbids mixing between men and women and restricts women's movements, often requiring the permission of a male guardian.

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Mark X 6 years ago

When are the Saudi's going to Wake Up. This is absolutely ridiculous.

Bella 6 years ago

So causing her death is preseving the "lives and safety of women". Who will take reaponsibility for this girl death?

Do they really think women are so pathetic that they can't control themselves in the mere presence of a male???

DNS 6 years ago

Shame on the University staff who prevented medical access to the student. A similar incident happened like this in 2002.

Pete 6 years ago

No, Bella, the concern is that women will lure the unsuspecting men into a lustful trap with their feminine wiles.

I've done CPR on real people in my line of work, and I have yet to find that situation even remotely arousing.