Rania al-Baz

From Feministe: Publicizing the “Private”.

By the time she was in her early 20s, Rania al-Baz had become one of the best known and best loved faces in her home country of Saudi Arabia. As presenter of a program called “The Kingdom This Morning” on state-owned television, her hair was always covered by a hijab, as is required, but her face remained uncovered, and she would choose head scarves of defiantly flamboyant colors to cover her immaculately styled hair. She became, for hundreds of thousands of Saudi women, admirable, enviable and challenging — and, thus, an implicit threat to a society in which women are forced to cover themselves, are not allowed to drive, cannot vote or participate in political life, cannot leave home unless accompanied by a chaperone or travel without authorization from a father or husband, and cannot establish a business without a male sponsor.

Then, suddenly, on April 13, 2004, Baz disappeared from the airwaves. When she emerged two weeks later, her face was all over the newspapers, but it was barely recognizable. Her husband had savagely assaulted her, slamming her face against the marble-tiled floor of their home until it suffered 13 fractures. He was disposing of what he assumed to be her dead body when she showed signs of life and, panicking, he took her to the hospital, where doctors gave her only a 70 percent chance of survival.

I’ve linked to the Feministe article rather than Salon, which she was quoting from, because registration-required content pisses me off. Very interesting story, though.

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