A King Saud University student has died of a heart attack after male paramedics were prevented by authorities from entering the women-only campus to treat her for more than an hour. Thousands of people took to twitter to vent their anger at the treatment of Amna Bawazeer and blame the kingdom’s segregation rules for her death.
UK Daily Mail She collapsed at King Saud University in the country’s capital Riyadh on Wednesday at about 11am but did not get seen by the ambulance crews until 12.45pm. But when emergency services arrived at the gates of the university, administrators barred the male crew from treating her, a local newspaper claimed.
When they were finally allowed to care for the victim she had died, it was reported. The university’s rector, Badran Al-Omar, denied the report, saying there was no hesitation in letting the paramedics in. He added that the university did all it could to save the life of the student.
Her death sparked a debate on Twitter by Saudis who created a hashtag to talk about the incident. Many Saudis said the kingdom’s rigorously enforced rules governing the segregation of the sexes were to blame for the delay in helping Ms Bawazeer.
Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam. Sexes are segregated in schools and almost all Saudi universities. Women also have separate seating areas and often separate entrances in ‘family’ sections of restaurants and cafes where single males are not allowed. The kingdom’s top cleric has warned against the mixing of the genders, saying it poses a threat to female chastity and society.
In a shocking tragedy in 2002, a fire broke out at a girl’s school in Mecca, killing 15 students. Rights groups reported that religious police would not allow the girls to escape because they were not wearing headscarves or abayas, a traditional loose black cloak that covers the female body from the neck down: SAUDI Religious Police Made 15 School Girls Burn to Death Because They Were Not Wearing Hijabs
Colleges for women had been under the purview of the Department of Religious Guidance and clerics, but after the fire it was placed under the Education Ministry, which oversees male education.
Following Wednesday’s incident, professors at King Saud University also demanded an investigation. ‘We need management who can make quick decisions without thinking of what the family will say or what culture will say,’ said Professor Aziza Youssef.
One staff member who witnessed the situation said paramedics were not called immediately. She said they were also not given immediate permission to enter the campus and that it appeared that the female dean of the university and the female dean of the college of social studies panicked. The staff member spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from university management.
Al-Omar said the staff called campus health officials within minutes of Bawazeer collapsing and that about 25 minutes later they called paramedics. ‘They called the ambulance at 12.35pm and ambulance staff was there by 12.45pm and entered immediately. There was no barring them at all. They entered from a side door,’ he said.