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In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive a car or travel without a male chaperone. Islamic law requires them to wear a garment called an abaya that shrouds them from head to toe. But one female face was in full view—at the age of 29, Rania Al-Baz was a popular television host and mother of two sons. But her happy public image masked a true Arabian nightmare. Rania was an abused wife. In April 2004, one of her husband's occasional beatings turned brutal, bloody and nearly fatal.

Gruesome photographs of Rania's injuries were printed in newspapers worldwide. She became the first Saudi woman ever to publicly show her battered face. Her husband was convicted of severe battery and sentenced to six months in jail and 300 lashes. In publicizing her private struggle, Rania became the first face of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia. The story of her beating and courage swept the globe.

"I don't feel like I'm a hero," Rania says. "... I feel that no woman should be a victim to her husband, or a victim in anyway. A woman should have the ability to choose her own destiny."
FROM: Oprah Takes You Around the World
Published on April 25, 2005


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