Friday, April 12, 2013

Women's Rights and Propaganda in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, women are now able to become lawyers. However, although this seems like a major step towards equality with men, there are many obstacles that must be overcome before women lawyers achieve full equality with men.
            Reading this article reminded me of history class and learning about civil rights. Although slaves became equal under the law in the 1870’s this did not come into reality until decades later. This is because simply changing a law does not alter the minds of the people and change the culture. It seems that law can shape society but often times for a law to be effective, the culture of society must support it. This can be seen through the Jim Crow laws which were informal laws enacted by American citizens in order to prevent the equality of blacks and whites.
            In this article, Saudi Arabian women can be licensed as a female lawyer. However, the article insists that this isn’t as big of a step as it seems, “for Saudi women to practice law on anything close to an equal footing with men, they need protection from discrimination against women in the courtroom, freedom to travel and to drive, and the ability to make their own decisions about their work lives.” At first I was confused by this quote. However as I continued reading the article I learned that in Saudi Arabia, a woman’s designated male guardian must approve her decision to work and travel. Also, all women are banned from driving in Saudi Arabia – this would make it very difficult for a woman lawyer to get to and from work.
            I think that this is a form of propaganda for Saudi Arabia. They pick and choose very carefully which rights they grant and which they keep restricted. The keep restricted the simplest rights (like driving, for example), and grant more complicated rights (like being a lawyer), which are difficult to carry out without having those simpler rights. Therefore, the people (and the world) think that Saudi Arabia is continuing to move forward when it is really remaining stagnant.

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