For archives, these articles are being stored on website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
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Saudi sex-changes empower some, shock others
Posted: 04-04-2006    
A recent phenomenon in Saudi Arabia has raised eyebrows for many and calls for a closer look at the Kingdom's conservative society: sex-change operations.

Reports reveal that in 2005, there were no less than five cases of women who underwent surgery to become men in the Kingdom, according to Al Watan.

Though this may seem like a small number considering Saudi Arabia's population of more than26 million, the figure comes as a shock to many in the conservative Muslim society, as Saudi Arabia remains one of the most traditional countries in the region, especially regarding sexuality and equal rights for men and women.

Some Saudi officials have reportedly laid blame for the shocking phenomenon on the blasphemous influences of the West, as well as on "psychological defects" of those who underwent the surgery.

However, according to other sources, the women embarked on the painful and dangerous transformation as a way to overcome the severe oppression and inequality that they reportedly encountered in Saudi society.

By becoming men, the women beleive, they would have the opportunity to enjoy those privileges denied them as Saudi females but allowed to Saudi males, including rights taken for granted in other societies, such as driving a car or even going to public places unaccompanied by a male relative.
A new black market for such operations is reportedly flourishing, and those interested in undergoing a sex-change operation are transported to another country (usually India) where the operation is preformed.

The entire process, including departure from Saudi Arabia, the operation in a foreign land, and return to the Kingdom under an assumed identity, reportedly takes all but two weeks.

The newspaper quoted a senior scholar as saying the Saudi authorities have to fill what he described as a legal vacuum by issuing laws against sex change operations.

© 2006 Al Bawaba (

Sunday, 25 April, 2004
Kuwait sex-change case upheld

A Kuwaiti court has said a 25-year-old man who underwent sex-change surgery can be officially regarded as a woman.

The unprecedented ruling came after the court was told of the plaintiff's physical and mental torment since childhood due to hormonal imbalances.

Lawyer Adel al-Yahya told Reuters news agency the judges were guided by a religious edict allowing gender change if there are medical reasons for it.

The ruling has to be approved by a higher court before it becomes final.

Mr Yahya, the plaintiff's lawyer, said he presented the court with an edict from Sunni Islam's top religious institution, al-Azhar, in Egypt.

This allows people to change their gender if there are proper medical reasons for doing so.

"We have evidence, a fatwa from al-Azhar, because we have a case of illness, not a case of switching gender or as they call it in Kuwait a third-sex case," he told Reuters.

"This is a very rare condition... and the court ruled according to that condition."

Mr Yahya said the process of getting final approval for the ruling may take up to a month.

Country profile: Kuwait
11 Sep 03 | Country profiles
Timeline: Kuwait
14 Jul 03 | Country profiles


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For archives, these articles are being stored on website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.