12 Things Women In Saudi Arabia Cannot Do

Strictly governed by the Islamic law, the majority of Saudi women were forced to wear an abaya a long black cloak and a black head scarf. If they failed to cover their face, they would probably be harassed for exposing too much flesh or wearing too much makeup, though the face does not necessarily need to be covered. The Shoura Council, the king's advisory body, ruled that women should wear "modest" clothes that do not "show off their beauty."


1. Go anywhere without a male chaperone

Saudi women are restricted in the amount of time spent with men they are unrelated to. The majority of the public buildings including offices, banks, universities, most public transportation as well as parks and beaches are segregated for men and women. Unlawful mixing will lead to criminal charges against both parties, but women typically face harsher punishment.


2. Drive a car

A Reuters correspondent once tried to use the gym and pool at an upmarket Riyadh hotel. And she such described her experience: "As a woman, I wasn't even allowed to look at them ('there are men in swimsuits there,' a hotel staffer told me with horror) - let alone use them."


3. Wear clothes or makeup that "show off their beauty"

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia proposed hosting an Olympic Games without women because in their belief women cannot compete in sports. When Saudi female athletes attended the London games for the first time, hard-line clerics denounced them as "prostitutes". Meanwhile, they had to be accompanied by a male guardian and wear a "Sharia-compliant" sports kit covering their hair.


4. Interact with men

Maureen Dowd, a Vanity Fair writer, once said in "A Girl's Guide to Saudi Arabia": "The mere thought of a disrobed woman behind a dressing-room door is apparently too much for men to handle."


5. Go for a swim


6. Compete freely in sports


7. Try on clothes when shopping


8. Enter a cemetery

Though some stores have recently begun hiring female employees, the majority are still staffed by men.


9. Read an uncensored fashion magazine

Luckily, things in Saudi Arabia now are slowly starting to modernise, and "women are highly educated and qualified", says Rothna Begum from Human Right Watch, "They don't want to be left in the dark."


10. Buy a Barbie

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11. Work in a lingerie shop

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12. Open a bank account without her husband's permission

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