Woman arrested in Saudi Arabia for wearing skirt and top
A woman identified as 'Khulood' has been arrested in Saudi Arabia for wearing "immodest clothes": a skirt and top. A video of her walking around in a desolate fort in Najd went viral on social media, triggering public outrage. The country's strict dress code requires women to wear abayas, long and loose robes, in public. Her case has been referred to the public prosecutor.
What, where and how?
Most tribes in Najd are orthodox. It is also where Ushayqir is located, the birthplace of Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative school of Islam. Police said she told them "the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge". The Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the "religious police", is examining the case.
The status of 'women's rights' in Saudi
Saudi women aren't allowed by law to expose any body part other than the face, hands and feet. They aren't permitted to drive, or to travel abroad without the explicit permission of a male relative. In her defence, 'Khulood' told police she was accompanied at the site by her "legal guardian" - a male relative who is legally authorized to control her actions.
Saudi social media users divided
The incident sparked an Arabic hashtag on Twitter that calls for a trial for the woman. Interestingly, it was also used by the state-run Alekhbariya television. However, many including Saudi writer Waheed al-Ghamdi posted in her support. Others said it wouldn't have created such alarm if it was a foreign woman on Saudi soil. The fate of the woman remains unclear.
Winds of change blowing in Saudi?
Heir to the throne, 31-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has focused on more open spaces, especially for the youth. Last week, the government also announced girls would now be allowed to play sports and attend physical education classes in public schools.