John Key's Saudi trip is now about women

John Key’s trip to Saudi Arabia has now become about women’s rights, as the world watches whether New Zealand’s Prime Minister will stand with or against women, the Green Party said today.

“John Key said on the weekend he ‘may’ bring up issues of human rights when he meets with the Saudi King in the next 24 hours, but that is nowhere near good enough,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“This is a regime in blatant breach of its many international human rights obligations, one which routinely beheads people without due trial, and which treats every woman in the country as a third class citizen.

“The Green Party firmly believes this FTA must not go ahead until Saudi Arabia commits to meeting its international human rights obligations.

“Till then, John Key’s trade deal by definition excludes women. It’s likely there’ll not be one Saudi woman in the room when he negotiates the deal, Nor will a Saudi woman sign it or own a business that benefits from it, nor will any Saudi woman be allowed to vote for politicians to oversee it.

“New Zealand women and men will rightly feel uncomfortable with the idea of their Prime Minister endorsing a regime that doesn’t treat women as full citizens.

“John Key said on the weekend that engaging with countries like Saudi Arabia leads to change, but that stands in stark contrast to the truth we know about South Africa. Real change occurred there when the rest of the world instituted economic sanctions against South Africa, not when it made economic ties closer.

“John Key needs to decide whether he stands for women, or against them,” Mrs Turei said.