A law passed by the Saudi Arabian cabinet this week bans violence against women and children in the home as well as in the workplace. Such behavior, which up until now had been considered a “private matter” in the country, will be punishable with penalties of $1,300 to $13,000 and as much as a year in prison.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that burqas worn by Muslim women are no longer welcome in France. The full-body veil, symbol of women’s “enslavement,” he said, is a threat to gender equality and to France’s long-standing secular democracy. Only a minority of women among the roughly 6 million Muslims in France wear such attire, but Sarkoz’s new hard line is sure to fan the debate.