The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Oman

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#gender #misogyny #oman #oman_gender #women

Sultanate of Oman

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index93rd best
LocationAsia, The Middle East
Life Expectancy72.54yrs (2017)2

Oman is amongst the worst places in the world at ensuring human rights and freedom, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Oman does better than average in opposing gender inequality3. When it comes to most other metrics, Oman does not do well. It does worse than average in terms of commentary in Human Rights Watch reports4, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms5, supporting press freedom6, freethought7, speed of uptake of HR treaties8, LGBT equality9 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights10. And finally, it falls into the worst-performing 20 for its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice11. Free speech is routinely denied, even on independent social media platforms where saying that that displeases the government can result in arrests and detainment12. Migrant workers, especially, are often abused and are poorly protected12.

1. Oman's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Asia (2020)13
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank13
1Hong Kong24.3
43Myanmar (Burma)128.5
Asia Avg99.9
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)13
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank13
155Central African Rep.121.0
157Papua New Guinea122.2
159=St Kitts & Nevis123.0
World Avg87.9

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark14. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu14.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe14, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia14.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in Oman stated:

Authorities continued to detain and prosecute people who expressed views critical of the government’s actions and decisions or religious beliefs deemed to be outside official Islamic practices. Migrant workers continued to face exploitation, forced labour and harsh working conditions. Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice, in the domestic and professional spheres.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)15

Omani authorities continued in 2017 to harass activists and restrict publications by local independent magazines and newspapers critical of the government, violating international standards of freedom of expression. [...] Authorities, particularly from the Internal Security Service (ISS), continued to target pro-reform activists.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)12

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments


Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better4
Asia Avg-5.0
World Avg-1.9
Oman is 78th in the world regarding commentary in Human Rights Watch reports.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR


Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better10
2=Costa Rica23
165=Papua New Guinea9
165=St Kitts & Nevis9
165=Cook Islands9
Asia Avg12.7
World Avg15.1
Oman is 164th in the world when it comes to its nominal commitment to Human Rights.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better8
Avg Yrs/Treaty8
164San Marino13.63
Asia Avg10.97
World Avg10.02
Oman comes 160th in the world regarding speed of uptake of HR treaties.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better5
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
121=Timor-Leste (E. Timor)120
Asia Avg94.6
World Avg79.7
Oman ranks 120th in the world regarding supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)16

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better6
141Congo, DR4166
Asia Avg4378
World Avg3249
Oman ranks 140th in the world regarding supporting press freedom.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index17

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

Freedom of speech does not exist in Oman. Publications that are critical (even indirectly) of the government find themselves harassed, and some of them have been shut down completely (i.e. the Azamn newspaper). Those who call for reform, point out corruption, or defend human rights, can face harassment from the government.12.

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Lower is better
% Victims18
36=Sri Lanka0.21
Asia Avg0.79
World Avg0.65
Oman is 35th in the world regarding eliminating modern slavery.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory19. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends20. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life21. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves22.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery23. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity24. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.25. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi26, Eritrea26, Indonesia27) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery28.

For more, see:

Migrant workers remained vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, due in part tothe kafala (visa sponsorship) system. [...] Human Rights Watch documented abuse and exploitation of domestic workers, including employers frequently confiscating workers´ passports despite a legal prohibition; not paying workers their salaries, in full or at all; forcing them to work excessively long hours without breaks or days off; and denying them adequate food and living conditions. In some cases, workers reported physical and sexual abuse.

Migrant domestic workers who fled abusive employers reported facing “absconding” charges that can lead to fines, imprisonment and deportation, trumped-up criminal charges by employers to force them to drop their cases, and lengthy delays when pursuing cases against employers. Workers reported that police at times returned them to their employers despite complaints of abuse, and Ministry of Manpower officials sided with employers during dispute-resolution processes despite workers´ complaints of severe abuse.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)12

3. Gender Equality

Oman is on the way towards ending gender inequality but women are still in an unfavourable position much of the time.

Oman´s kafala (sponsorship) immigrant labor system and lack of labor law protections leaves the country´s more than 160,000 female migrant domestic workers exposed to abuse and exploitation by employers, whose consent they need to change jobs. Those who flee abuse–including beatings, sexual abuse, unpaid wages, and excessive working hours–have few avenues for redress and can face legal penalties for “absconding.” [...]

Article 17 of the Basic Law states that all citizens are equal and bans gender based discrimination. In practice, however, women continue to face discrimination. The Personal Status Law discriminates against women on matters such as divorce, inheritance, child custody, and legal guardianship. For instance, women can lose child custody if they re-marry, and men continue to hold guardianship of the child regardless of whether they have custody. Oman has no laws prohibiting domestic violence and marital rape.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)12


3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
Asia Avg0.36
World Avg0.36
When it comes to opposing gender inequality, Oman is 54th in the world.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
188Saudi Arabia0
189Vatican City0
Asia Avg1907
World Avg1930
Oman comes 4th-worst in the world regarding the year from which women could participate in democracy.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions
Lower is better
87Saudi Arabia74
Asia Avg48.2
World Avg36.8
When it comes to its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, Oman ranks 13rd-worst in the world.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews29,30,31,32. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East33, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews34,35. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"36. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males37.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #ICCPR #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

Oman artificially denies same-sex partners and simultaneously makes sexual relations outside of marriage illegal and "Oman´s penal code provides for six months to three years in prison for consensual sex between two people of the same sex"12.

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
Asia Avg-02.1
World Avg12.6
When it comes to LGBT equality, Oman is positioned 161st in the world.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence38. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws39. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries38. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
Asia Avg3.7
World Avg3.0
Oman comes 149th in the world in terms of freethought.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights40. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish41. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era42 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted43. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief44. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands7,45 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia7,46.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed47. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief41, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion48 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"49 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see: