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Saudi Arabia now allows its women to travel without consent of their men, and cannot now be discriminated against at work for their age, disability, and gender.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative countries in the world. Apart from being conservative, there are harsh curbs on the women of the country. From covering up in public places to gender segregation, all of this is suffocatingly real.
Women in Saudi since a very long time have been living under the male guardianship system. This prevents them from taking their own key life decisions without the consent of a male relative. But on Friday new laws were released that loosen restrictions on women by allowing any citizen to apply for a passport and travel freely.
This new law ends a long-standing guardianship policy that gave men almost complete control over women.
Not just this, according to a report in the Saudi Gazette, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development in Saudi Arabia has decided to treat the male and female workers in the country at an equal level.
The fact the things have started to change in Saudi Arabia has shown that a revolution has begun. The country where women rights activist have been fighting for basic rights is finally moving towards a social revolution. This celebration, however, is incomplete without the courageous activists. These activists have peacefully advocated for the right of women to drive, an end to the male guardianship system, and for justice and equality.
Saudi women have achieved the freedom to drive, travel without male consent, and equal treatment at the workplace, but the activists who have been fighting for these rights are in jail. The country can truly walk the talk behind these reforms in women’s rights by ending its persecution of women’s rights defenders.
These changes truly are a clear portrayal of the long battle that the activists have been fighting.
It has been approximately more than a year since Saudi authorities jailed Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef and a group of Saudi women activists simply for demanding equality and defending human rights in Saudi Arabia. Many of these activists who have been arrested fought for both – lifting the driving ban and the male guardianship.
These reforms are a huge revolution on their own, but if the country wants to bring changes in the conditions of women in the country then they should drop all charges against the defenders of women’s rights.
The fight in the country for women rights is very long. There are many more issues to be tackled and many more bans to be lifted.
Women still require a guardian’s permission to be released from prison. Even to leave a shelter where they have sought protection from domestic abuse or violence. Gender segregation is still there.
The recent reforms are a huge step towards equality, though the celebration of these reforms is incomplete without the women who fought for it.
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