The women of Saudi Arabia: Unmasking the reality!

The women of Saudi Arabia: Unmasking the reality!
All women, including foreigners, have to wear black Abaya and cover themselves from head to toe.

Remember those stories about ghosts and genies? Well, the Saudi Arabians have proved them to be true! They hosted a fashion show with clothes that whooshed around on drones like genies and ghostly apparitions. The Jinn Jinn Hadid fashion show’ (as people nicknamed it), presented Saudi Arabia’s ‘innovative’ replacement for female models. Saudi Arabia seems to have taken a leap from 2018 to 3018 by replacing models with drones because, the future is now right? Think again folks! While we sit and lampoon a petty fashion show, women in Saudi Arabia struggle every second to get access to the most basic rights. Our media houses are pretty efficient in reporting every small incident that demands our attention or seems controversial. But where are they when women get killed for even raising their voices in countries like Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is country with a history of gender inequality

Saudi Arabia adheres to some of the strictest interpretations of Sunni Islam in the world. Accordingly, their culture does not allow women to establish their role in the society. Heads covered with burkhas and bodies wrapped under the black clothing, the women of Saudi Arabia don’t even have the right to dress as they want. The people of their country argue that the black abaya is to protect the modesty of women in public. However, their cultural belief says that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman in order to teach them discipline! Then again, domestic violence was traditionally not seen as a criminal matter in the country, until 2013. When women are being tortured in their own houses, is there any place where they can be safe? Seems like the Saudi Arabians have a completely distorted definition of ‘safety and protection’ of women.

After so much outrage on the ‘innovation’ of the Saudi Arabian fashion show, we have not even scratched the surface of the problems in that country. Yet another thing that Saudi Arabia brings to us is the concept of male guardianship. This requires a woman to have a male guardian present to make significant decisions such as- travel, marriage and legal transactions. This system of male guardianship is evidently based on religious and social conventions. Under the brunt of this system, even the grown-up women in Saudi Arabia are treated as minors with minimal or no power at all over their lives. The males contemptuously go with the flow of this system, subduing and demeaning their own wives and mothers.  Surprisingly, a guardian can be any male relative- a husband, a father or even a son. For instance, a divorced woman in Saudi Arabia had her 23-year old son as her guardian! It is about time something is done about this system of male guardianship in Saudi Arabia because- She is not a child and she is not inferior to you, and she is not your slave by law!”

#StopEnslavingSaudiWomen and #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianship are the two mantras that have been trending on social media since long. Moreover, several other deep-rooted problems have also come to the forefront. In Saudi Arabian rape cases, the victim can be sentenced to even harsher punishment than the assailant. As per Islamic Sharia law, it is believed that a woman is responsible for her own rape. If a woman goes outside her home without her male guardian while fully covered in Burkha, she is inviting rape by her presence in public. Thus, if a woman gets raped, she will be punished for adultery, and not the rapist. There have been cases where raped women in Saudi Arabia have been ‘stoned’ to death! Marital rapes, domestic violence, and forced marriages are legal in Saudi Arabia, because the stories of the victims definitely prove so! If Saudi Arabia is really being ruled by the ‘divine Sharia law, what kind of a god would want his children to be treated inhumanly? To be honest, the brutal truth is- when it comes to Human Rights, Saudi Arabia is a living hell.

Every year, hundreds of women get punished for being raped and thousands of women don’t even open their mouths in the fear of being punished. Women in Saudi Arabia cannot ask for a divorce, or marry voluntarily, or travel freely or even have medical surgeries without the permission of her male guardian. Another highlighting feature is that the newspapers flash the uniqueness of Saudi Arabia as the only country where women are not allowed to drive. A report mentioned a prominent cleric who called for more modesty for women. He urged the nation’s ‘daughters’ to avoid “any abaya that has any decorations… no embellishment, no slits, no openings.” How then, do we expect a person to thrive in a place where they don’t even have the right for being themselves? This time, instead of burdening the women with orthodox laws, the men should change their mindsets and let go off their orthodox thinking!

The women of Saudi Arabia are controlled to the extent where they cannot even mix freely with the opposite sex. Most of the offices, public buildings and universities have separate entrances for males and females in order to restrict the interactions between the two sexes. Public transportations, beaches and amusement parks too are segregated in most parts of the country. If men can marry and keep five wives at a time, why can’t the women at the least interact with other men? They should have the freedom to talk with anyone and everyone. In another case, Reuter’s editor Arlene Getz described her experience of trying to use the gym and pool at an ‘up market Riyadh Hotel’. She said that she wasn’t even allowed to look at the pools as there were men in swimsuits there”. Moreover, the hotel seemed horrified with the idea of a woman using the pool and showing her body to other men. Nevertheless, this tells us that for the Saudi Arabian women, swimming pools are surely not a source of fun and recreation. So how about black clothes covering the whole body in the peak of summer? Now, that’s more like it!

The Saudi men and their ‘divine’ laws have worked very hard to ban openings and slits in clothes, whereas in reality, it is their own mental horizons which need to be opened and widened. They restrict the women from driving but don’t they know who drives their progeny further? Surely some respect for the women is due! Maybe after a few hundred years, these issues will be resolved, when these morons will realize what they’ve been doing all this while. Though, they talk about safety and protection, when it comes to their wives and daughters getting raped, they do nothing to defend and encourage them, but punish the victims instead! What kind of a justice is this? Oh wait, justice isn’t a part of their dictionary yet, is it?

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