Saudi Arabia has recently and finally started easing restrictions on women. Just a week back, a sign of relief from all the women echoed throughout the kingdom, when a royal decree was passed allowing the women to drive for the very first time. The restriction persisted even though no Islamic law or Saudi traffic law prohibited them from driving. This year, they even allowed girls in public schools to attend physical education classes plus now they can even excel in sports if they want. Also, they no longer need permission of a guardian in order to work. Many other such restrictions have been uplifted, but still there are many more that are making their lives a living hell. 1. Women can be imprisoned; if they socialize with males who don’t belong to their immediate family, such is an offence there. 2. Eating at a restaurant, which doesn’t have a family section, is again not allowed. 3. No equal right even in inheritance. A Daughter is entitled to only half of what the brother will receive, according to the Sharia Inheritance law.
4. They can’t retain the custody of children post the age of 7 for boys and 9 for girls, in case of a divorce. 5. They are bound to wear an abaya and viel or a burqa, while visiting public places. 6. She has to get her character testified first, by 2 men, if she wants to conduct certain businesses, or apply for a license, or before being granted for a loan. 7. The Legal status of a woman here is of that of a minor. Therefore, no fair hearing in the court of law. The testimony of one man is equal to the testimony of two women. 8. A Muslim women cannot marry a non- Muslim, plus a Shunni women can’t marry a Shia man or even a communist according to Islamic restrictions. 9. Without the permission of a male guardian, they cannot open a bank account, have a medical procedure, or travel, or have a passport, or even marry or divorce!
The last one is the worst out of all as it restricts and offends the basic right of a woman. The road to freedom is far long and it will be years before that change will come. But at least, the small small steps that are now being taken are sign of something better and greater for their future.