Women in Saudi Arabia can finally drive. Starting yesterday, a longstanding ban on women driving was lifted. It was a historic moment for Saudi women who have been at the mercy of their husbands, fathers, brothers and drivers for transportation.
Still, being allowed to drive is just one of the things Saudi women have been allowed to do; there’s a whole host of things they still can’t. Here’s a list of 10 things, among many, that Saudi women still can’t do:
1. Saudi women can’t marry or divorce, without permission from their male guardians.
2. They can’t socialise with males outside their immediate family and can be imprisoned for such an ‘offence’.
3. Women in the Islamic country can’t eat at restaurants that don’t have a separate family section.
4. They must wear an ‘abaya’ (a head-to-toe cloak) and veil in public places. However, in Riyadh, some women have started showing their faces.
5. Islamic restriction prevents Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims, which is to be strictly adhered to in Saudi Arabia. Also, Sunni women can’t marry a Shia man or a communist (atheist).
6. Saudi women cannot conduct certain businesses, need at least two men who can testify to their character before they can be granted a loan or a licence.
7. In case of divorce, Saudi women can’t retain custody of their children after they reach the age of seven for boys and nine for girls.
8. They can’t get a fair hearing in court, where ‘the testimony of one man equals that of two women.’ The legal position in Saudi Arabia of a woman is equal to that of a minor, and therefore she has little authority over her own life.
9. Saudi women cannot receive an equal inheritance. Under Sharia inheritance laws, daughters receive half what is awarded to their brothers.
10. They can’t get a passport, travel, open a bank account or have a medical procedure without permission from their male guardians.