Truthfully, there is no bliss in ignorance.
I had always known that women in the Middle East are a bit more restricted than other women most likely due to Sharia law practiced in the countries there. However what I did not know was the extent to which these women were restricted.
I saw in the news recently that the ban on driving for women in Saudi Arabia had been lifted and I was so excited because I had known for long that the women were not permitted to drive. I was so excited that I shared it on some of my social media pages.
I guess this was what made a friend of mine send me the tweet below
I was shocked to my bone marrow, the audacity of the mentality was numbing and series of questions jumped in my mind at the same time. Does that mean because she is a woman she is not permitted to have “sexual euphoria”? For goodness sake the vibrations being referred to, wont they also be felt if the woman is in the passenger seat. And which vibrations is he even referring to? So it means every time I am driving it makes me want to have sex? Another thing, so men can feel these vibrations at will but the women shouldn’t?
The sadness in my heart was so great but it could not be compared to when that same friend forwarded a link to me by BBC on things women in Saudi Arabia could not do and I decided to do a little bit of research on my own. I simply could not believe the things I found out.
It almost seems like Saudi Arabian women are being treated like second class citizens in their own country. In fact, it doesn’t seem, they actually are being treated like second class citizens.
These are the painful things I discovered;
First, which is one that hit me the hardest, is that a woman’s testimony in Saudi Arabia is only worth half of a man’s testimony for a trial. In other word’s two women’s testimony is equal to that of one man, basically the Saudi Arabian legal system is implying that a woman means half of one man.
Now, travel documents can only obtained with the consent of a male guardian, basically a woman cannot travel if a man does not give her the permission to do so. Also usually they are not allowed to leave the home alone.
In a case of divorce women are only allowed custody of their children until they reach the age of seven (boys) and nine (girls), once such children are over the stipulated ages, they get transferred to the father.
Women also need the permission of a man to open a bank account and have control over her own financial transactions. Also there are few jobs the women are allowed to do without male permission, jobs like being shop assistants or working at fair grounds.
Saudi Arabian women cannot marry without permission of their male guardian and a person who seeks to marry a foreigner must obtain approval to do by the ministry of interior, and marriage to non-Muslims is made so difficult so much that it is almost impossible.
Then, the dressing.. I want to quote it exactly how it was reported
“Saudi women must cover their bodies completely by wearing an abaya – full-length, loose-fitting robes – in places where they may be seen by men who are not related to them. So there are women-only spaces – specific floors of shopping centres, for instance, where women take abayas off. Outside of those, women not following this rule face being chastised by the religious police.”
Oh and yes you cannot have unlimited conversations with men that are not family members as a woman. In fact public, restaurants, universities and other spaces have both a ‘family’ section and a section reserved for men.
Now, looking critically at all these absurd rules can one say that Saudi women are being treated like human beings not to talk of even being treated equally with men? Their lives are basically made to absolutely depend on men; they are not allowed to live their own lives on their own terms. These rules violates almost every right I know; their right to human dignity, personal liberty, fair trial, right of association.. everything.
Fine! A little bit and I mean a very little bit of progress is being made, the women can now vote and that just happened in 2015, education for girls is made compulsory until 15, they are permitted to work but with permission of guardian and now recently they have been allowed to drive though it is yet to be enforced.
However, the present position is still a world away from civilization and basic freedom of a human being. This is wrong and inhumane in every respect.
It is indeed time for the Saudi Arabia government to respect rights of women!
Onashile Peace (tolarnee)