Imagine that you could not travel or go to school without your dad’s permission. You need him, your brother, or a male driver to take you anywhere you want to go in a car. He even has a say in who you get to marry.
This is life under Saudi Arabia‘s guardianship law — a combination of the legal code and religious doctrine within the kingdom. Men have guardianship over the unmarried women in their families, which usually means a father is guardian to his daughter (but in his absence, a son or uncle can fill in). When a woman marries, the guardianship switches over to her husband. Even when Saudi women are no longer minors, they are still treated like children in the eyes of the law.
One woman is trying to change all that: a 43-old-old doctor, going by the pseudonym “Samia” in press reports, is challenging her father’s guardianship in the Saudi Supreme Court. Keep reading »
On June 17, women in Saudi Arabia are planning a protest of the country’s ban on women drivers en masse by getting behind the wheel. Women in Saudi Arabia are forced to rely on male relatives or male drivers to get anywhere by car, and are not allowed to travel outside the country without a male relative’s permission or to vote. The Women2Drive campaign, which is gaining support through a Facebook group called “I will drive starting June 17,” will be an act of civil disobedience that could perhaps lead to a sea change of women’s rights in the Saudi kingdom. According to The New York Times, the protest will not have a centralized location. Women with valid drivers’ licenses from other countries are asked to get behind the wheel of their car, put on their seat belts, and drive around, going about their usual day. If they are able to, women are asked to film themselves driving and upload the video to YouTube. Keep reading »
Take a look at the above images of Mariah Carey: In one picture, she’s in an adorable crop top and shorts set. In the other, she’s decked out in pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Which is real and which is fake? It turns out the fully-clothed Carey is Saudi Arabia’s censored version of the image, in which adorable capri pants were airbrushed onto Mariah’s naked legs. In the conservative Muslim country even superstars have to tone it down.
After the jump, some other Mariah Carey album covers and images that have gotten the Photoshop Magic treatment. Keep reading »
Imagine if every time you left the country — for a vacation, for college, for a new job — you needed permission from your father, brother or husband.
That’s the story of Saudi Arabian women’s lives: women have male guardians (“mahrams”) who must go through a bureaucratic process to grant them permission to travel unaccompanied. But now, technology might be involved: recently, at least one Saudi women’s rights activist claims her husband received a text message from the foreign ministry when she left the country for a vacation. Keep reading »
A new law in Saudi Arabia has caused quite a bit of confusion. Are you sitting down? OK, so a strict version of Islam forbids women to come in contact with men who are not their relatives. And so the Saudis have issued a fatwa demanding that women who come into regular contact with unrelated men should breastfeed them so that they can be considered relatives. But the big issue is not the law, believe it or not. The heated debate is about the logistics of the law. Keep reading »
It’s the best possible ending to the most disgusting marriage I’ve ever heard of. A 12-year-old Saudi girl is seeking a divorce from her 80-year-old cousin-turned-husband. That was not a typo. She’s 12; he’s 80. And yes … they are related. She was sold … err … married to him for $30,000 against the wishes of her mother. How is this even legal, you ask? Saudi law does not specify a minimum age for marriage. But the Saudi Human Rights Commission thinks the marriage is wrong and has decided to take a stand and help the little girl obtain a divorce. Thank God! Here’s hoping that the ruling in this case will set a precedent which will make Saudi officials reevaluate the law when it comes to legal marriage age. [Newser] Keep reading »
Being covered in robes and veils from head to toe is not stopping women in Saudi Arabia from getting plastic surgery. Surprisingly, liposuction, breast augmentations, and nose jobs are drawing females to the plastic surgeon’s at the same rate as in other parts of the world. It seems that self-consciousness can grow even when people can’t see your features. The only time Saudi women can show off their clothes and haircuts are for their husbands, at women’s parties, and when abroad. Whereas 10 years ago, a plastic surgeon was quite the rarity in the Arab nation, now 35 surgical treatment centers exist. But the religious values that govern the majority of Saudi lives are not being overlooked when it comes to these procedures. Three years ago clergymen and plastic surgeons met to create a consensus on tampering with God’s natural creations. The result was that “undergoing an unsafe procedure or changing the shape of a ‘perfect nose’ just to resemble a singer or actress” was haram, or forbidden, while “small breasts, fixing features that are causing a person grief, or reverse damage from an accident” is halal, or sanctioned. Keep reading »