Friday, October 25, 2013

The Roadblock to Islamic Women's Equality

     The oppression of women in Middle East has long plagued the region. What is worse is that at a time when human rights and equality for all is at the forefront of societal issues, Muslim women feel even more patronized and repressed, as their equality for them has not made any strides.
     The blatant subjugation of women isn't more clear than in Saudi Arabia. The biggest issue is that the government of Saudi Arabia allows patriarchy to dictate how it rules over its citizens. For example, female citizens are assigned a legal male guardian who can legally marry her off to whoever he chooses, ban her from education, and approve whether she can travel internationally.
     The inability of women to drive or get transportation is a huge deterrent for them from pursuing education, following a career, or even maintaining their health. What is so infuriating for women is that when government officials are asked about the driving ban, they answer that it is not based in legal or Islamic laws, but simply social conventions. However when women try to drive, the police step in, not society. The women who violate the driving ban are usually taken to the nearest police station and forced to sign a pledge with her legal male guardian to ensure she won't do it again.
     There have already been several attempts to try and lift the ban on women driving, such as proposals to the council and petitions sent to the Royal Court. However, these proposals were never even allowed to be discussed. In 1990, 47 women drove on the streets in protest of the ban on driving. They were met with job suspensions and travel bans by the government. Finally, a Saudi woman named Manal Al Sharif made a Youtube video trying to unite women to join her in driving their own cars. She was imprisoned for over a week for her actions.
     Tomorrow, October 26th, The Women Driving Campaign will try to fight against the driving ban. It is the first real civil movement to occur in Saudi Arabia, and the petition has been written by over 30 unrelated people. 
     The campaign has a Youtube channel and Instagram account for signatories to upload their driving videos, photos, and arguments against the ban. Everyone who signs the petition is regarded as an organizer and leader who is boldly stepping forward to act in support of the campaign. By permeating through society, the campaign will make the argument for the government to stop considering the ban and subsequent female inequality as a societal or legal excuse.

No comments:

Post a Comment