Women in Saudi Arabia arrested for modelling at car show

25 Oct 2016 | By Supriya Kaur

Pictures of several young women modelling at a car show in Saudi Arabia went viral over social media.

This prompted Saudi authorities to crackdown and take punitive against the women and the organizers of the event.

Four women were arrested in this regard and action taken against organizers of the Luxury Motor Show, Jeddah for contravening principles of Islamic Sharia and other violations.

In context: Saudi women and the restrictions they live by

OverviewSaudi Arabia's guardianship system

In the deeply religious and conservative Islamic kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the existing guardianship system drastically curtails women's independence.

Women are therefore unable to commute, travel, obtain a passport, pursue education or even open a bank account without permission or when not accompanied by a male-relative called 'marham'.

Recently women in Saudi have been voicing their resentment against the guardianship-system and want it abolished.

WhyDriving is a 'no-no' for Saudi women

Although there are no official regulations that prohibit women from driving in Saudi Arabia however staunch religious beliefs prohibit it as allegedly female drivers "undermine social values".

Despite a 2011 "Women2Drive" campaign to create awareness in support of women-drivers and to push for change, the campaign however wasn't a success.

Fifty-women flouted the ban and some were sentenced to lashings for doing so.

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Saudi's top cleric on women driving

Saudi Arabia's top cleric said earlier this year that women driving a car would expose 'themselves to evil' and would be distressing for families as they wouldn't know "where women were". In April 2016, Deputy Crown Prince indicated Saudi Arabia wasn't ready for 'women drivers'.
Banned from showing off their 'beauty'

HowBanned from showing off their 'beauty'

Saudi Arabia legally imposes a dress code for women and it's based on a rigid interpretation of Islamic law.

Women must wear an 'abaya' (a long cloak) and a headscarf; although the face isn't required to be covered, religious police are known to harass women for wearing make-up or exposing themselves.

However, the acceptable dress code in coastal Saudi Arabia is much more relaxed.

AboutKeeping the opposite sex at bay

Interaction between men and women who are not related is severely curtailed.

Majority of buildings, offices, universities, banks are designed to have special entrances. Segregation is common even in parks, beaches, amusement parks and restaurants across the country.

Illegal or unlawful interaction between opposite sexes attracts punishment for both parties however typically women are known to receive harsher punishment.

DetailsLimited avenues for a swim

Given the inflexible rules of gender segregation in the country, women aren't allowed to access public swimming pools.

Public pools are solely for men's use only however women can swim either in private ones or female-only pools or gyms.

At public beaches they are restricted to wearing the 'abaya'; reportedly the 'Burkini' being worn by Muslim women elsewhere wouldn't be permitted in Saudi Arabia.

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HowCompeting in sports off the table

Saudi women are not allowed to compete in state-organized tournaments or national meets in their own country.

They are not allowed access to state sports infrastructure and there are barriers to playing sports even in school.

Women aren't even allowed to watch national teams play even as spectators.

However, for the first time in 2012, Saudi Arabia sent two female participants to London Olympics.

WhyWhile shopping, can't try on clothes!

Saudi women aren't allowed to try on clothes or undress even behind a curtain while shopping; doing so attracts punishment.

Reportedly, in some malls in Riyadh there aren't even changing rooms and one is required to choose clothes without trying them on.

Some reports however suggest that this restriction is essentially to prevent theft and is not imposed for religious reasons.

25 Oct 2016Women in Saudi Arabia arrested for modelling at car show

13 Dec 2016Saudi woman arrested for posing without hijab

Last month, a young Saudi woman in her 20s posted a photo of herself on social media without a hijab or abaya, in defiance of Saudi Arabia's dress code for women.

Her post received death threats and some demanded she be imprisoned for not "adhering to the teachings of Islam".

The young woman has now been arrested in Riyadh for "violation of general morals."