Sasson first arrived in Saudi Arabia, little of Western
civilization had penetrated
Saudi culture. At
that time, as a “guest” of the country, she chose not to question the obvious secondary status of females in the
Kingdom, where women were forced into marriage, sent into
isolation for small infractions, and even sentenced to
death at their husband’s command.
“I felt I had not traveled to Saudi Arabia to
change its culture and any efforts that I might have
undertaken would have been unwelcome and ineffective.”
her ten years of living in a Saudi neighborhood in the
developed a strong network of friendships with Saudi
them, she began to understand the day-to-day reality of
being a female in a male-dominated society where Arab
women are without legal recourse from individual acts of
violence and cruelty.
Sasson clearly states that, “Although I did have
the pleasure of meeting and befriending a number of Saudis
who lived customary lives minus the dramas highlighted in
my books, I was a sad witness to appalling oppression
against women, everyday occurrences that in most other
cultures would be seen as shocking violations of human
she reacted with horror, Sasson still did not feel that as
a single Western woman, she was in a position to bring
about change in a rigid social system that has been in
place for the last two thousand years.
an Italian embassy function in 1983, Sasson met an
extraordinary Saudi princess, the “Sultana” of her
an instant rapport, they began a friendship that has grown
and strengthened over the years.
Although they were from diverse cultures, they
found themselves to be true soul mates.
From Sultana, Sasson learned even more about the
harsh truth of life behind the veil endured by Sultana,
her sisters, and her friends, many of them members of the
1985, Sultana requested that Sasson write a book about the
injustice of life for women in Saudi Arabia.
The author was initially reluctant to take such a
step, although she ultimately revealed it to the world
(1992) and Princess
Sultana’s Daughters, (1994).
“My revelation came in April 1991, following the
liberation of Kuwait, when I returned to Saudi Arabia
after a one-year absence.
I was expecting to see gains in the status of
women, but instead, their small victories had been taken
from them. That
visit helped to focus my mind on the realization that the
story of Sultana and her sisters must be exposed, and it
would take a woman who could bridge both Western and
Eastern cultures to tell it.
I was destined to be that person.”
makes it clear, that, “the ongoing injustices against
Saudi women, and other Muslim women in the area, originate
from primitive cultural traditions, rather than from the
Muslim faith. The
Muslim faith founded by Prophet Mohammed actually
guarantees many rights for women; however, too often, the
men who interpret the words of the Koran, and the sayings
and deeds of the Prophet Mohammed, appear to twist
meanings to suit their desire to keep women in a secondary
position in society.
Anyone who has carefully studied the Prophet’s
sayings and deeds, gets a strong sense that he was a
tolerant man who had enormous affection for his wives and
a devotion for magnanimity when it came to women.”
speaking on this issue, Sasson continued, “I have been
puzzled by the fact that a number of Muslims have
completely misunderstood the books written about Sultana
and other women in Arabia.
I question whether or not the people who denounce
the books on Sultan have actually read them.
There is not a single incident in the books where
the Islamic faith is condemned.
If anyone claims otherwise, then they are blindly
criticizing rather than speaking from a point of
the men who misinterpret the Koran and apply their
misinterpretations to women are soundly criticized.
Princess and I strongly hope that the men in power will
ensure that change will come to the social customs within
the Muslim world. As
a matter of fact, it is my desire that women worldwide
gain the recognition and status that they deserve.
Sadly, injustice against women is alive and well in
too many countries, including western nations.
However, readers should bear in mind that these
three books focus on one woman, her family, and friends
who live in Saudi Arabia.”