Pages: 1 2
During that same period in 2011, the Saudi government embraced women’s suffrage when Saudi King Abdullah granted women the right to not only vote but also run in the 2015 local elections for the Majlis Al-Shura, a consultative council that advises the monarchy on matters of public policy.
Of course, it should be noted that women can only vote in the 2015 election after they have first secured the permission of their male guardian.
The Saudi government also allowed female athletes to participate for the first time in this year’s Olympic Games. However, this participation did come with some provisos, including that the women be accompanied by a male guardian, not consort with men and wear Sharia-compliant athletic gear.
Nonetheless, their participation in the Games was considered trailblazing, especially given the vehement religious objections by Saudi clerics to women engaging in sports. One such cleric described women’s participation as “immodest physical movement in front of unrelated males that threatens the purity, honor and health of the Saudi female.”
That belief, which holds wide sway throughout all strata of Saudi society, has led millions of Saudi women and girls to be banned by the General Presidency for Youth Welfare from playing sports in Saudi Arabia’s government schools, colleges and over 150 official sports clubs.
Some dismissed the Saudi government’s decision to allow women to participate in the Olympics as nothing more than a publicity stunt aimed at improving the country’s international image. Others argue that it was motivated less by a desire to be more gender-inclusive and more by the fact the country would have been prohibited from sending teams to future Games if it didn’t send at least one female athlete to London.
Still others have criticized the International Olympic Committee for even extending an invitation to the Saudis, noting that the IOC had banned South Africa’s apartheid regime from the Olympics, while it has remained suspiciously silent to the Saudi Arabian monarchy’s apartheid policies targeting Saudi women.
Now, unfortunately, Saudi Arabia’s gender-apartheid policies seem destined to become even more ingrained with the proposed building of an exclusively-female urban center, a concept that has apparently captured the Saudi government’s fancy.
To that end, Saleh al-Rasheed said the Saudi Industrial Property Authority is “now working on a second industrial city for women,” while the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry is currently studying a proposal to set up an additional four such cities in the capital of Riyadh.
Those governmental decisions led Waleed Aboul Khair, Director of the Human Rights Observatory in Saudi Arabia, an NGO that supports women’s rights, to lament, “When you look around, nothing has changed and suppression has not changed.”
Unfortunately, not only has the suppression of women in Saudi Arabia not changed, but now the government is building new, large scale venues in which to continue that practice.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
Pages: 1 2