Gulf | Saudi Arabia

Saudi female student dies after male ambulance crew denied access

Outrage after university staff bar male paramedics from entering a women's-only campus after student heart attack

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 18:24 February 6, 2014
  • Gulf News

Manama: Thousands of Saudis vented their anger online after staff at a Riyadh university barred male paramedics from entering a women's-only campus to assist a student who had suffered a heart attack and later died.

Amna Bawazeer, a Master’s student at the College of Social Studies at King Saud University in the capital Riyadh, suffered the heart attack at 11 am at the women’s college where she was finalising her course timetable for the second semester.

However, when the ambulance arrived, the medics were not allowed to enter the college for two hours.

The university officials argued that the ambulance staff were males and could not enter the premises as the student was not covered and that no man could be allowed into the women’s college even though Amna needed prompt and vital treatment, local daily Okaz reported on Thursday.

Most of the students who witnessed the incident suffered a psychological shock and some of the young women collapsed after crying hysterically amid loud protests about refusing the medics to enter the building and rescue their friend who had suffered a massive heart attack, the report said.

Some of the students said that they were shocked by the university officials’ attitude not to allow male medics to enter the college.

“Islam is a religion that facilitates practices, and the religious rule, in exceptional situations, are relaxed,” some of the students told the daily. “We do not see any necessity that is more pressing than rescuing the life of a human being from imminent death.”

The students insisted that the officials who refused to allow the medical team into the college on the pretext they were men should be held accountable for the incident, the report said.

All comments on the newspaper site offered their sympathy to Amna’s family and condemned the “lack of sense” and the “absence of logic” that resulted in the student’s death. They said that religion was not a factor in the negative attitude of those who prevented the medics from entering the college.

Several online users called for looking carefully into the incident and agree on a set of solutions to ensure it is not repeated.

Some suggested setting up advanced clinics in all colleges while others said that all ambulances heading to women’s colleges should include women on their staff to ensure they pass the “stubbornness” of officials.

Co-education is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia at all levels.

In 2002, 15 schoolgirls died in a fire in Makkah after, according to reports at the time, religious police stopped them from leaving a burning building because they were not properly dressed.

Comments (18)

  1. Added 16:18 February 7, 2014

    This is a horrible tragedy. I am not muslim, but no religion forbids the helping of people in an emergency. These school administrators should be fired, everyone parent who sends their daughter to this school should be terrified that a school puts burqas ahead of their students' safety.

    Chris, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:55 February 7, 2014

    This is outrageous!!!!That is why it is so important what you believe!!

    Chantal Naidoo, Johannesburg, South Africa

  3. Added 13:35 February 7, 2014

    This is just vile! In case of emergency, men CAN assist women according to what i have read in Islam. This is such a disgrace!

    amy, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 13:16 February 7, 2014

    Sad to read this news. Any society that sidelines half of it's population (and intellectual capacity) is doomed to be a failure. Hope better sense prevails and the Ruling body takes quick decisive steps to improve the participation of women in every strata of life, and empowers women to live their life in equality to men.

    Ramakrishna Karanth, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 12:44 February 7, 2014

    Disgusting! This inhuman act has nothing to do with Shariah (Islamic) Law. This law is actually of the mentally ill people. Islam allows to even drink alcohol if you're dying out of thirst and got nothing to drink. There is NOTHING more important in this world than a life of a human being, irrespective of a nationality or religion.

    Ahsan Hadi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 12:42 February 7, 2014

    Saudi Arabia, the 15th century called, they want you back.

    Eric, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 12:40 February 7, 2014

    school authorities are to blamed for girl death what was going through their head ?

    miraj, alain, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 12:08 February 7, 2014

    "... setting up advanced clinics in all colleges while others said that all ambulances heading to women’s colleges should include women on their staff to ensure they pass the “stubbornness” of officials..." - good suggestion. Staffs acted according to the rules and regulation given to them.. it is duly the mistake of the hospital mgt, who sent a male staff to the female only area... Student anger is accepted but there is no question of religion / other criticism. We pay our condolence of the victim and their family. We believe , this will not repeat.

    Sheik Mydeen, Dubai, India

  9. Added 11:51 February 7, 2014

    This is really heart touching , at the time of emergency situation anybody can provide treatment in the Islamic religions its allowed, the lack of awareness about Islam girls life end

    abdul rafeek, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 11:47 February 7, 2014

    Clearly lack of wisdom.

    Milton Tan, Georgetown, Malaysia

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