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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 18 Feb 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Discrimination against Saudi Women

By Samar Al-Mogren

Feb 18, 2016

THE Kingdom being a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi nationals are allowed to travel between GCC countries with their ID cards in place of a passport. Intra-GCC travel has become like travelling between the Kingdom’s cities and regions. Now the question is why the authorities don’t lift the condition of getting permission of the male guardian for a woman to travel to a GCC state.

I believe that this demand is reasonable and not something impossible. I am not talking about lifting the ban completely but trying to approach the issue differently. I have written several articles on this issue to the extent of boredom. In this article, I would like to point out the fact that travelling to GCC states is now like travelling to Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

It is depressing to see Saudi women waiting in front of the immigration counters of Saudi airports for permission of their husbands or guardians. If the Absher network goes down or is out of order, such permission will not arrive in time, forcing the women to abandon their foreign trip.

At the same time, their counterparts in other GCC states travel all over the world like any other human being without such permission. This is because nobody looks at them with suspicion. Compared to their GCC counterparts, the condition of permission has lowered the status of Saudi women even though they hold high positions and are appointed or elected to decision-making bodies such as the Shoura Council and municipal councils.

Saudi women are now capable of participating in the decision-making process but they are unable to take the decision of lifting this unjust condition that degrades them to the status of little girls.

I will not accept overused statements like “society is not yet ready” or “society will not accept” after the recent municipal council elections, where people voted 21 women to office. These women were elected with a majority votes by male citizens. This is clear proof that Saudi men have full confidence in their women. Therefore we can rightly say that the decision that prevents women from travelling abroad except with the permission of a male guardian is no more justifiable.

We should have the courage to admit that it is the law that prevents women from travelling without a male guardian’s permission, not society. This and other anti-women laws are not created by society but lawmakers who believe that women should be treated like small children and they cannot go out without a male guardian’s support and protection.

We have reached a stage that we have to put these anti-women laws in the garbage and replace them with new ones that would consider woman equal to any other citizen of the country.

The discrimination against women is really painful. Discrimination means not only ill-treating the black but also any other citizen who is treated unequally because of gender, colour, or race. There is no law in the country that discriminates against these groups except women. How long this shall continue?