While researching information about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, I found a few articles that confirm that the Saudi guardianship system continues to treat women as minors. These articles contain valuable information about the requirements for women in the conservative Kingdom. Under these requirements, girls and women are forbidden from studying, work, or even traveling without the permission from their male guardian. While many women are fighting for their rights, there is evidence that some women in Saudi Arabia do not want change because of the fear. My goal is to make a big impact in the world, in order to help these women, who deserve to be treated as human beings. In Saudi culture, the sharia is interpreted according to a strict Sunni form known as the way of the Salaf.
The law is unwritten, leaving judges with significant discretionary power, which they usually exercise in favor of tribal customs. “It’s the culture, not the religion,” is a Saudi saying. Many Saudis do not see Islam as the main impediment to women’s rights. Said one female journalist, “If the Qur’an does not address the subject, then the clerics will err on the side of caution and make it haram. The driving ban for women is the best example.” Women in many other Islamic nations, have more political power than Saudi women. The 2009 Global Gender Gap Report that, Kyrgyzstan, Gambia, and Indonesia significantly higher than Saudi Arabia for women’s equality. In 2006, a government poll found that over 80 percent of Saudi women do not think women should drive or work with men and hold political office. I think this is due to the custom and the fear feel by these women. They don’t know what they are missing , for that reason I think they need a change in their life because women are not animals, we live now in the 21st and they can’t still live I the past.
All females must have a male guardian, typically a father or husband. The guardian has rights over the woman in many aspects of civic life. Depending on the guardian, women may need their guardian’s permission for: marriage and divorce; travel, if under 45; education; employment; opening a bank account; elective surgery, particularly when sexual in nature. Guardianship requirements are not written law. They are applied according to the customs and understanding of particular officials and institutions as hospitals, police stations, banks, etc. In a 2010 interview with the New York Times, Noura Abdulrahman, a female employee of the Saudi Ministry of Education, defended male guardianship as providing protection and love. In Saudi culture, women have their integrity and a special life that is separate from men.
As a Saudi woman, I demand to have a guardian. My work requires me to go to different regions of Saudi Arabia, and during my business trips I always bring my husband or my brother. They ask nothing in return—they only want to be with me. The image in the West is that we are dominated by men, but they always forget the aspect of love. People who aren’t familiar with Shariah often have the wrong idea. If you want stability and safety in your life, if you want a husband who takes care of you, you won’t find it except in Islam. In 2008, Rowdha Yousef and other Saudi women launched a petition “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me,” which gathered over 5,000 signatures. The petition defended the status quo and requested punishment for activists demanding “equality between men and women, mingling between men and women in mixed environments”
I think it is too much that these women had a dress code. Why they cant use normal cloths? For me it’s all about to take control of the women. Traditionally, women’s clothing must not reveal anything about her body. It is supposed to be thick, opaque, and loose. It is also required to be a dull color, unadorned, and generally not of interest to the male. It should not resemble the clothing of men. Although the dress code is often regarded in the West as a highly visible symbol of oppression, Saudi women place the dress code low on the list of priorities for reform or leave it off entirely. Journalist Sabria Jawhar complains that Western readers of her Huffington Post blog are obsessed with her veil. She calls the niqab “trivial”: (People) lose sight of the bigger issues like jobs and education.
That’s the issue of women’s rights, not the meaningless things like passing legislation in France or Quebec to ban the burqa … Non-Saudis presume to know what’s best for Saudis, like Saudis should modernize and join the 21st century or that Saudi women need to be free of the veil and abaya … And by freeing Saudi women, the West really means they want us to be just like them, running around in short skirts, nightclubbing and abandoning our religion and culture. A majority of women say they want to wear the veil. They cite Islamic piety, pride in family traditions, and less sexual harassment from male colleagues. For many women, the dress code is a part of the right to modesty that Islam guarantees women. Some also perceive attempts at reform as anti-Islamic intrusion by Westerners: “They fear Islam, and we are the world’s foremost Islamic nation.”
Women and men must minimize social interaction. Most offices, banks, and universities have separate entrances for men and women. According to law, there should be physically and visually separate sections for the sexes at all meetings including weddings and funerals. Many Saudi homes have one entrance for men and another for women. Private space is associated with women while the public space, such as the living room, is reserved for men. Traditional house designs use high walls, compartmentalized inner rooms, and curtains to protect the family and particularly women from the public. As a practical matter, gender mixing is fairly common in parts of daily life. Women customarily take taxis driven by men. Many households have maids, who mix with the non-mahram men of the households. Maids, taxi drivers, and waiters tend to be foreigners, which are sometimes used as a reason to be less strict about segregation.
Girls are taught that their primary role is to raise children and take care of the household. According to Saudi culture, a woman’s place is at home and a man’s place is at the workplace. Saudi sharia allows women to work, provided it does not lead to her neglecting her essential duties of homemaking. Women may also work if it is necessary for their support, such as a widow with children. Women are allowed to work as long as their husbands or their male guardians approve of the work. Her work must also be deemed suitable for the female physique and mentality. It is forbidden for women to be appointed as judges, and positions of high public office are also reserved for men. Teaching and nursing are common professions for women.
Approximately 71% to 78% of females are literate, in comparison to 85% literacy rates in males. More women receive secondary- and tertiary-education than men. Fifty percent of working women have a college education, compared to 16 percent of working men. In contrast, in 1970, only 2% of women were literate. Now Saudi Arabia is planning to build a new city exclusively for women as it bids to combine strict Sharia law and career minded females, pursuing work. The plan coincides with the governments ambitions to get women to play a more active part in the development of the country. Among the stated objectives are to create jobs, particularly for younger women. ‘I’m sure that women can demonstrate their efficiency in many aspects and clarify the industries that best suits their interests, their nature and their ability’, Modon’s deputy director-general, Saleh Al-Rasheed, told Saudi daily newspaper al-Eqtisadiah.
After researching all this information, I conclude that women in Saudi Arabia need to have right and be treat as equal as a men. This is going to make a big impact into their life because they need chance to express themselves, freedom of speech, and at the same time, they need to express their opinions without an appropriate manner. Remember, women are human and they had feelings, they are not an animal.
Ed Husain.” Why Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia Are Still So Bad.” The atlantic.Web.28Sep.2011. Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-saudi-arabia
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