Women behind the wheels

October 3, 2017

It took decades for Saudi Arabia to pay heed to its status as an ultraconservative kingdom in the international world. Women in Saudi Arabia will finally be on the driving seats by 2018. Acceptance of female drivers is a part of Saudi Arabia ‘Vision 2030’ where it wants to lessen the country’s dependence on oil, keep more of its money within its borders and stir up its people into joining the workforce. The protests beginning in the 90s cost women a lot but their sacrifices were finally able to negate all the irrational explanations that stood as an obstacle for number of years. What might be called a Saudi revolution in the coming years is a process accelerated by the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s 32-year-old son. Recent years have seen acceptance of women in politics as well, giving them right not only to vote but also to run for local council’s seats. But how far can this acceptance go in a male dominant society. The patriarchal values of the kingdom are backed by the guardianship laws. This obstruction has not only ceased the growth of Saudi economics but has also been responsible for assuring the notorious status of the country round the world. The rigid patriarchy goes unmoved by any of such obstructions and relates all the social ills with the women freedom. A viral Whatsapp message in Saudi read that the virtuous ones will work against its implementation, to protect against epidemics, adultery and other disasters. With such a mindset will Saudi women will ever be able to move against the guardianship laws that pinch most of the rights groups and Saudi activists. There is still a lot more that has been ceased by such policies and laws. Saudi women cannot get married without the consent of male guardians. Interestingly, they are not even free in their choice of divorce. Such laws become a hindrance for the guardianship of the children as well. Seeking an identity card, a passport, permission to leave the home aren’t much if one comes across the law that demands her to take guardian’s permission even to leave the prison. From medical treatment to getting a job, Saudi women have a long way to go to be called as free.
Rights groups and Saudi activists want to move against the guardianship laws in the Kingdom.

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