Saudi Arabia is on the path to softenining its hard-line religious establishment especially as it affects the rights of women.
Thirty-two year old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is believed to be at the fore-front of the moves, hoping to make the kingdom return to “moderate Islam” and revamp the country’s international image.
Among successes recorded are the the lifting of the ban on women from driving and allowing women to attend football matches in stadiums.
In 2015, the country for the first time, allowed women to vote and contest for elective offices.
But there is a long way to go, in Saudi Arabia where public buildings, parks and means of transportation are segregated by sex.
Below are some of the laws still holding women down on account of Islamic injunctions in some Saudi Arabia.
- Women can’t sign a contract without permission from male guardians – father, husband or brother or uncle.
- Limited interaction with men outside their family as much as possible.
- In court, the testimony from one man equals that of two women.
- Women must wear a loose black garment called an abaya and a headscarf when they leave the house.
- A man can have several wives, but a woman cannot have several husbands.
- Marriages are often arranged by family. The bride has no role in the marriage contract. The marriage contracts is between the groom and the father of the bride.
- A man can divorce a woman by saying “I divorce you” (Talaq) three times, or indeed by sending a written note. For a woman to get divorce, the husband has to consent to it.
- Women getting divorced automatically lose custody for daughters who are older than nine and sons who are older than seven to their ex-husbands.
- A woman can not try on clothes when shopping
In Bahrain, women younger than 45 are not allowed to go on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca without a male guardian.