11 Prohibitions for Women in Saudi Arabia That Are Hard to Believe


From choosing a husband to taking a ride on public transportation — in this country, almost everything is prohibited for women. According to the Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia is in 129th place out of 134. How do women really live in a country where women’s rights are extremely limited? Which of the stereotypes we know are true and which are myths?

Apegeo will tell you about the most unusual prohibitions that local women have to deal with every day in Saudi Arabia. Read the article till the end to find out how the women who don’t obey the strict rules are punished.

1. They can’t go anywhere without a Mahram.

The women in Saudi Arabia don’t have the right to go anywhere without their husband or a male relative. This male person who accompanies a woman is called a Mahram. Without his approval, a woman can’t leave the country, get a job, get married, enter a University or even have surgery.

In case a woman needs to go to the police, a Mahram must be able to identify and speak for the woman because she can’t take her hijab off. In such conditions, even complaining about a Mahram is impossible. But the local women don’t have any riots against this. On the contrary, they actively protect their right to be under the care of a man.

2. They don’t have the right to a driver’s license.

This information will soon be a myth. In recent years, in the Persian Gulf countries, a series of laws have been passed aimed at the liberalization of women. In September 2017, the King of Saudi Arabia announced a change in the law that will allow women to drive cars. The change will take effect in June 2018. However, a woman will need to get her guardian’s permission to drive. At the moment though, driving is still illegal.

3. Public transportation is prohibited.

Well, if you can’t drive, you can always use public transportation, right? For women in Saudi Arabia, it’s not that easy. Taking a train is allowed but only in a separate car at the end of the train. And most bus companies refuse to transport women.

This is why women in Saudi Arabia have to walk, take a taxi or be transported by their personal driver.

4. Women must wear a big black dress.

When on the street, women in Saudi Arabia cover their entire bodies, leaving only the oval of the face, her hands, and feet open. A black abaya (a long dress with sleeves) and a hijab (a covering for their heads) are the only two things a woman can wear. The clothes should be made of thick fabric, be baggy, and shouldn’t highlight their curves. The rules can be more or less strong. They mostly depend on the region. For example, Jeddah is a more liberal city and the Najd region where the House of Al Saud lives is very strict and conservative. In some regions, women are still required to wear a niqāb — a special garment that covers the face, leaving only the eyes open.

Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and claimed that women have the right to refuse this strict dress code. We wonder if the women will listen to the recommendation since public opinion really matters to them. Sadly, if a woman is raped, she can be found guilty if her clothes are considered too revealing.

5. University education is not prohibited but it isn’t necessary.

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