Sa'udi Arabia - Social development

Social insurance provides health care, disability, death, old age pension, and survivor benefits for workers and their families. Retirement is allowed at age 60, and benefits are provided at 2% of average monthly earnings times time the number of years worked. This system is funded by 5% payroll deductions from workers, and 8% of payroll contributions from employers. The government provides an annual subsidy to the program. This program is compulsory for employees of firms with 10 or more workers, and is voluntary for smaller enterprises. The law requires employers to provide 100% of wages for a month of sick leave, and 75% of wages for two additional months.

The customs and regulations governing the behavior of women are strict even by the standards of the Islamic world. Despite the shortage of Sa'udi labor, the government is unsympathetic to the participation of women in the workplace; only 5% of the labor force is female. Extreme modesty of dress is required. Women wear the abaya, a long black garment, and they must also cover their face and head. Women are not permitted to drive motor vehicles. Women must enter public buses through a rear door, and sit in a segregated area. Women may not travel without the written permission of a male member of her family. This provision also applies to travel within the country. Domestic abuse is prevalent.

Segregation also occurs in the workplace, where women may only contact clients by telephone or fax. The Ministry of Commerce will not issue business licenses for women in fields that might require them to be in regular contact with government officials or male clients.

The government does not recognize international standards on human rights. Rights of privacy, freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, and movement are strictly curtailed. Security forces commit human rights abuses with the acquiescence of the government, even though they are nominally illegal. Corporal punishment, including amputation of limbs, beheading, and stoning, are used. Executions are carried out for crimes including alcohol trafficking, armed robbery, adultery and the practice of witchcraft. Most of those executed were foreigners.

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