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Gender Inequality has been an age old issue everywhere in the world. A woman’s quest for equality had once become a universal phenomenon. Today, Many countries recognize the need to bring about a revolution which could result in the world to be a better place for women. However,still there are many countries which do not consider men and women at par and Saudi Arabia is one such country.
In Saudi Arabia, women’s rights are limited and their gender roles originate from the Islamic Law called Sharia. All women regardless of their age are required to have a male guardian. It is the only country in the world that prevents women from driving. Do you know a woman may need her guardian’s permission for marriage, divorce, employment, lawsuits, opening a bank account or even visiting a doctor? The mere thought of a disrobed woman behind the dressing room is apparently too much for a man to handle and thus the women in Saudi Arabia are not even allowed to try on clothes while shopping.
It’s bizarre that health officials may require the guardian’s permission for a woman to be admitted, discharged, or to administer a medical procedure on her or her children. Women under this system are denied their legal capacities, rendering them unable to make decisions for themselves.It is nearly impossible for victims of domestic violence to independently seek protection or obtain legal redressal because the police often insists that women and girls obtain their guardian’s authorization to file a criminal complaint, even when this complaint is against the guardian. Moreover, even when a woman manages to file a domestic violence case, often the measures taken against the perpetrators are flimsy and shameful.
For example, Jeddah’s Summary Court convicted a man for physically abusing his wife to the point of hospitalization, but sentenced him to learning by heart, five parts of the Quran and 100 sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. What kind of justice is this?
The male guardianship system is equivalent to slavery for the women in Saudi. They cannot do anything freely and have to follow the instructions provided by their men.They are also deprived of making the most trivial decisions on behalf of her children. In addition, a woman’s access to education depends on the goodwill of the male guardians, whose permission is essential for their educational enrollment. Both public and private sectors require the female staff to obtain permission from a male guardian to be hired and employers can fire a woman or force her to resign if her guardian decides for any reason that he no longer wants her to work outside.
The guardian’s permission is no longer required for a woman in Saudi to do a job in a clothing store, amusement park, for food preparation or as a cashier. Women in Saudi also need to cover themselves from head to toe. The dress code for women is governed by a strict interpretation of the Islamic Law. Majority of women are forced to wear an abaya-a long black cloak and a head scarf.
The situation of women in Saudi Arabia has been a matter of debate in various summits and conventions but there has been no improvement in their status recognition or their access to basic rights so as to make the living conditions tolerable for the women residing in the country.
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