Recently there have been several reforms for women citizens in Saudi Arabia. For instance, in 2015, women were finally granted permission to cast ballots for the first time during municipal elections. Those elections led to seventeen women being appointed to the Consultative Council. In 2016, 4 women represented Saudi Arabia in the Olympics. Now, in 2017, Saudi women have finally been allowed to apply for a driving license and to drive a car.
Even though these are steps in the right direction, there are still many important decisions that a woman in Saudi Arabia isn’t allowed to make for herself. Unfortunately, the rules that govern the guardianship of women restrict many aspects of their everyday lives even today.
So here are 8 things women in Saudi Arabia can’t do without male permission:
If a woman wants to marry, she must first seek permission from her male guardian (wali). If she wants to marry a foreigner, the ministry of interior has to approve the decision first.
A Right To A Fair Trial
Women still don’t have a right to a fair trial. As unbelievable it sounds, a woman’s testimony is worth half a man’s in Saudi Arabia’s legal system.
Important Medical Treatment
Before a woman can have important medical treatment, like, for example, a life-saving operation, she must first produce a written signature from her male relative.
Custody of Children
If a woman goes through a divorce, she is only allowed to have custody of her children until the age of seven (for boys) and nine (for girls).
A woman isn’t usually allowed to leave home without her wali. She is also not allowed to obtain travel documents, such as passports and identification cards for instance, without first being given permission.
Open A Bank Account
Nowadays, there are several jobs that women can do without male permission. Nevertheless, women in Saudi Arabia are still not permitted to open up their own bank account. Therefore, a woman has no control of her finances unless her wali gives her the go ahead.
Freedom To Dress
It is illegal for a woman in Saudi Arabia to dress for beauty. She is coerced into wearing full-length abayas – a long coat that’s worn over clothes – when she’s in public.
Interact With Men
A woman can only speak to men (who are non-family members) for a limited time. In Saudi Arabia, there are designated ‘family’ sections and men-only sections in public. A woman who is out in restaurants, universities, etc. is only allowed to sit in family sections.
After reading all these incredibly cruel restrictions, we understand that Saudi Arabia continues to discriminate females by denying them the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Saudi Arabia’s Association for the Protection and Defense of Women’s Rights continues to campaign for women’s basic rights.