Year after year, the 42-year-old Saudi surgeon remains single, against her will. Her father keeps turning down marriage proposals, and her hefty salary keeps going directly to his bank account.
The surgeon in the holy city of Medina knows her father, also her male guardian, is violating Islamic law by forcibly keeping her single, a practice known as "adhl." So she has sued him in court, with questionable success.
The surgeon lives in a "protection house," one of dozens scattered around the kingdom for victims of adhl and domestic violence. Under a fake name, she gets escorted to courts accompanied by guards, fearing retaliation from her father.
She recalled her last encounter with her father inside the court: "I kissed his feet. I begged him to set me free, for the sake of God. "She turns 43 next month.
Adhl cases reflect the many challenges facing single women in Saudi Arabia. But what has changed is that more women are now coming forward with their cases to the media and the law. Dozens of women have challenged their guardians in court over adhl, and one has even set up a Facebook group for victims of the practice.
The backlash comes as Saudi Arabia has just secured a seat on the governing board of the new United Nations Women's Rights Council — a move many activists have decried because of the desert kingdom's poor record on treatment of women. Saudi feminist Wajeha al-Hawaidar describes male guardianship as "a form of slavery."
"A Saudi woman can't even buy a phone without the guardian's permission," said al-Hawaidar, who has been banned from writing or appearing on Saudi television networks because of her vocal support of women's rights.
"This law deals with women as juveniles who can't be in charge of themselves at the same time it gives all powers to men." - By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press