Saudi suffragettes

saudiIn Saudi Arabia, women will soon be able to vote for the first time in the country’s history. They can take part in the forthcoming municipal elections both as voters and candidates. The council has limited powers but it’s still a big step for those who have been fighting for women’s rights in the repressive Gulf state for years. I wrote a piece for the online women’s magazine, The Pool, about the monumental challenges still faced by Saudi women.

Some Saudi feminists say the driving ban is the least of their problems. The repression of women in all areas of life is enshrined in the deeply discriminatory system of male guardianship. Imagine this. Your male guardian is your husband, father, brother or son. Without his permission, you cannot obtain a passport, get married, travel, or go to university. Perhaps you apply for a job. No matter how old you are, some employers might ask your husband, father, brother, or son for his permission before hiring you. You’re sick. Some hospitals might not carry out a medical procedure that you need without his approval. You get married. Your husband can unilaterally divorce you, but if you want to leave the marriage, you must have his permission. He will usually get custody of the child. You cannot leave the country with your children unless the father gives his consent.

Other recent work includes this report for Deutsche Welle on the Conservative Party conference, and this opinion piece for the International Business Times about institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police.

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