Saturday, September 5, 2015

7 things women can't do in Saudi Arabia

The legal system of Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia, Islamic law derived from the Quran, and thus discrimination against women here still continues.

The Saudi law solely adheres to Holy Quran -- which all judges have to interpret conservatively.

Earlier, women were not allowed to vote in elections but recently, women in Saudi Arabia are registering to vote for the first time in history, more than four years after King Abdullah granted equal voting rights.

Apart from voting, there are many things in Saudi which women can't do... India TV brings to you 7 things which women can't do in Saudi:

1. Women can't drive car
Driving a car in Saudi is strictly prohibited for women. However, there is no official law that bans women from driving.

Saudi clerics argue that female drivers undermine social values and hence they can't drive.

A group of Saudi women had in 2011 organised the 'Women2Drive' to raise awareness on the issue but it was not a major success.

In 2014, the advisory council to King of Saudi Arabia had recommended the country's government lift the long-standing ban on women drivers despite decades of cracking down on protests.

2. Women can't go anywhere without a chaperone
Women in Saudi need to be accompanied by a male partner whenever they leave the house.

These male guardians are known as a 'mahram'.

The 'mahram' needs to accompany the woman every time she leaves her home.

This system is based on the notion that giving freedom of movement to women would make them vulnerable to sins.

There were reports that once a teenager was gang-raped in Saudi. When this incident took place, the victim was not with a mahram. The court punished her for going outside without her guardian.

The Saudi government has recently announced that it was considering lifting restrictions on women that would allow them to travel without mahram.

3. Women can't participate in sporting events
Saudi Arabia had proposed hosting an Olympic Games without women. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had turned down any suggestion of Saudi Arabia making a joint bid with Bahrain and holding men and women's events in different territories.

The society here is very conservative and it is hard time to accept that women can compete in sports.

When Saudi Arabia sent its female athletes to the London games for the first time, hard-line clerics denounced the women as "prostitutes".

While they were allowed to compete, they had to be accompanied by a male guardian and wear a "Sharia-compliant" sports kit that covered their hair.

4. Women limit their interaction with men
Women here are required to limit the amount of time spent with men they are not related to.

Media reports suggested that majority of public places including offices, banks and universities have separate entrances for men and women.

Public transportation, parks, beaches and amusement parks are also separate in most parts of the country.

Unlawful mixing can lead to criminal charges.

5. No gyms for girls
There are no laws against women exercising outside their homes, but in this conservative society many are influenced by scholars and clerics who argue against it.

In girls' schools and universities, there are no gym classes or sports teams.

However, private gyms for women were allowed to operate until the Religious Police decided to close them down for good.

Some Saudi clerics have campaigned for women-only gyms to be shut down and declared that sport could cause women to lose their virginity.

Saudi also faces a ban from the International Olympic Committee for never sending out any female delegates.

6. No selling or wearing anything red on Valentine's Day
Flower shops and gift shops are prohibited from selling red roses, anything heart-shaped or red on Valentine's Day.

Schoolgirls, ladies are prohibited from wearing anything red - not even a red scarf.

Any girl that shows up to school with a hint of red is barred from entry and is sent home to change whatever it is that is red.

The usual reasoning for banning anything red is because it is not an Islamic occasion and also to prevent from having any contact outside marriage.

7. Women can't work
Women are not allowed to do most of the jobs that men can do in Saudi.

Most women work in either education or the medical field. Women have only recently been allowed to work as store clerks or at department stores.

At a few hypermarkets, women need to cover their faces at all times while working.

One notable place of business where women are absent from is the lingerie store, which are still fully staffed by men.

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