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Is Saudi Arabia Becoming Feministic With New Laws For Women’s Rights?

When you think feminism, middle-Eastern countries probably won’t be at the top of the list. 

Saudi Arabia being one of them, is not known for being the most progressive place for Women at least, seeing the strict Sharia law it abides by. 

For a long time now, women have lived a very closed off and in many cases oppressed lifestyle, that is dependent on permissions from male guardians/family members and almost no agency of their own. 

However, it seems that the new ruling by de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is intent on changing the way things are run in the country, with women being the first to be affected. 

In 2017, the decades long ban on women driving in the country was lifted, and now with this one that allows women over the age of 21 to apply for a passport authorisation, even without any permission from male guardians, it seems the country is changing for women rapidly. 

But is it really?

The History Of Women’s Rights

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia have not always been the greatest though small changes are slowly being brought about. 

There was a time when women were not allowed to vote in elections or sit for any political office, however, this was lifted in 2011 when the then King Abdullah permitted women to vote during the local elections of 2015 and even had women officials be appointed in the Consultative Assembly. 

The guardianship laws and the fact that most of the power is in the male hands is a cause of much concern and stress to the women there. 

Even till date, women cannot marry or live out of their house on their own, needing permission from male relatives/guardian. 

Not just that, even leaving prison has to come with such a permission, along with that, they still cannot give citizenship to their children and speaking of that, they are not permitted from allowing their children to marry either. 

saudi arabia feminism

Read More: 32-Year-Old Saudi Crown Prince: Another Tyrant Or Truly Progressive For Letting Women Drive?

The New Reforms In Saudi Arabia

Perhaps the first reform that shook the world and the country was when the decades old ban on women driving was lifted in 2017. 

Until that point of time, only men were allowed driving licenses and if women were caught driving in public they could risk being arrested or fined. 

As per reports, the royal order was said to be implemented by 24th June 2018 and soon after even car brands started to market this new reform. 

Not just that, but the Saudi government also allowed women to participate in the National Day celebrations for the first time ever in September 2017. 

Reports talked of how women were allowed inside a certain section of the stadium meant for families. 

Now, according to reports, another reform has been brought about which allows women to apply for passport without needed permission from a male guardian along with women over 21 travelling alone. 

The decrees that were published in Friday’s Um al-Qura gazette, that is put out officially by the kingdom and were approved by the Saudi Cabinet, also give women the right to register for a divorce, child’s birth, marriage and to be issued official family documents. 

It was also stated that now both a mother or father can become legal guardians of children. 

However, it is not yet known whether these new reforms will be implemented immediately or after some time. 

It is also to be noted that in the decree, it was just written that any citizen of the country can apply for a passport and people over 21 don’t need permission to travel, in gender neutral terms. Unlike before when women would be singled out from such laws.

Both these reforms are seen being in line with the Saudi Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 where he has created amendments to laws in the country to modernise Saudi society and bring more jobs. 

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: BBC News, New York Post, Wikipedia

Find the blogger @chirali_08

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