Saudi Arabia Grants Women Freedom to Live Alone

“There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved.” – Swami Vivekananda.

We live in a patriarchal society with its deep-rooted misogyny. A society that tends to call a woman incomplete without a man. A society that judges and demeans women no matter what the situation is. 

Society has put limitations on women but men are allowed to do and be anything. A society in which when a woman tries to do something different, everyone tries to suppress or trample her.

So, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to us that after years and years and years of struggle, Saudi Arabia has allowed women to live alone without permission from a male guardian. The amendment allows women rights to live alone independently. 

Earlier women used to travel within the country and outside the country, attending official business and undergoing medical procedures with the permission of their male guardian (Wali – Father, Brother, Husband, Son or Uncle).  

The law allows women the right to travel abroad, file a divorce or register a marriage and apply for official documents along with the eligibility for the guardianship of minor children.  

Although, she can be reported by her guardian if she had committed a crime of which he has evidence. The woman has to serve a jail term and after completing her term, she will not be handed over to her guardian. 

Incidents that led to the Amendment in the Law:

  • In 2002, 15 girls died in the school of Mecca after police prevented them from exiting a burning building because these girls were not wearing the correct Islamic dress and didn’t have the approval of their male guardians.
  • In 2009, a woman who wanted to marry outside her tribe was vetoed by her father and send to the Mental Institution as a punishment. 
  • In July 2013, King Fahd hospital in Al Bahah postponed amputating a severely injured woman’s hand because she didn’t have consent from a male legal guardian. Her husband died in the accident that left her and her daughter severely injured.

In 2016, Saudis filed a petition to end male guardianship, signed by over 14,500 people. The women’s right supporter Aziza-Al-Yousef delivered it to the Saudi Royal court. She was later detained by Saudi authorities in May 2018 and as of November 2018, she was held at Dhahban Central Prison.  

The fight was against referring to women as ‘Subordinate’ and ‘Children’. Many women careers got ended due to this and many women lost their children due to the lack of custody right. 

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy country, famous for oil, the holy city of Mecca and Medina, and the largest country in the world without a river with a 3.43 crore population. 

Their ranking on Human Development Index 2021 is 40, which means it’s a rich country that provides a good Standard of living to its citizens. But the ranking of Saudi Arabia on the Global Gender Gap Index 2021 is very bad (147), which means Male-Female don’t have the same opportunity and Women face discrimination.

Saudi Arabia is developing but slowing:

  • Until 2010, women were barred from voting in all elections and from being elected to any political party. 
  • In 2019, women were allowed to drive a car.

Saudi’s society is becoming more open and friendly- A country rich in crude oil will soon become a country rich in humans right. Other Muslim countries should take a chapter or two or five from the books of Saudi Arabia especially Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are becoming more Radical. 

The Muslim-Origin countries are getting liberalised whereas the Converted-Muslim countries are getting more radical.  

“I don’t wish women to have power over men, but over themselves” – Mary Shelley.

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