A platform for voices supporting women's rights
The news that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive by law has been sweeping headlines across the globe. But as daring females take to the wheel in protest, in other countries around the world, women are still subjected to shocking restrictions based purely on their gender.
According to the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia is not the worst country in the world regarding women’s rights, in fact, it ranked 10th worst on their preeminent 2013 global gender gap ranking report. Mali, Morocco, Iran, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Syria, Chad, Pakistan and Yemen made up the ten countries in the ranking with the lowest scores for their treatment of women. Whilst Saudi Arabia undoubtedly has a long way to reach parity between men and women, there has been a sense of “modernisation” and a defiance among its female population. In other countries, women continue to be restricted without access to global media attention.
Here are the 7 most shocking restrictions upon women around the world:
1) India (some parts): Road safety rules don’t apply to women.
Less of a restriction, more of a false sense of liberty, in some parts of India, women are exempt from road safety regulations that require motorcyclists to wear a helmet. This has meant in countless deaths on the roads. The exemption has been criticsed by women’s rights campaigners as a symbol of the devaluation of women’s lives.
2) Yemen: A woman is considered only half a witness.
It is truly shocking that in this day and age, a women’s testimony is not fully recognised in yemeni courts. Generally, the testimony of a woman is considered unreliable if not backed up by the statement of a man, and women are not allowed to testify whatsoever in cases of adultery, sodomy, libel, or theft.
3) Saudi Arabia and Vatican City: Women can’t vote.
Yes, it’s true. In Saudi Arabia and the Vatican City women are currently not permitted to vote by law. However, a royal decree has been announced in Saudi Arabia, meaning that women will be able to vote by 2015, but alas, no such decree has emanated from Vatican City, where only men are allowed to vote.
4) Ecuador: Abortion is illegal.
In Ecuador abortion is not legal by law. Abortion is a hot topic in many countries, especially in developed countries that claim to uphold the values of women’s rights. However, Ecuador has taken this to the extreme, abortion is outlawed and actively prosecuted unless the woman is consider “demented”. This law has meant that women that suffer miscarriages have been prosecuted and received jail sentences.
5) Saudi Arabia and Morocco: Rape victims can be charged with crimes.
“Victim-blaming” is a problem that rears its ugly head in countries across the world, where ever there is rape, there a finger of blame pointed towards the victim. However, in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, women who have been raped can be charged with: leaving the house without a male companion, being alone with an unrelated man, or even becoming pregnant as a result of the rape. In Morocco, Amina Filali recently committed suicide after a judge ruled she must marry her rapist, adhering to the policy that statutory rape charges are nul and void in the event of marriage.
6) Yemen: Women can’t leave the house without their husbands’ permission.
In Yemen, women are not allowed to leave the house without a male escort and this is widely enforced. However, some exceptions are permissible, such as a woman rushing to tend to sick parents.
7) Saudi Arabia: Women can’t drive.
Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive by law. Despite recent protests to this taking place across the country, with widespread international support, conservatives vehemently resist this change. A conservative saudi cleric even stated that driving was bad for women’s health and could cause damage to the ovaries – clutching at straws?
Whilst we throw our weight behind the women of Saudi Arabia and their right to drive, it is important to remember that all over the world, women suffer from arbitrary restrictions on their liberty and equality.
For the video “No Woman, No Drive”: