A statement from Prince Mohammad bin Salman regarding women’s dressing in Saudi Arabia might just have ushered in another big change in the country. The Prince, in a TV interview, said that women in Saudi Arabia need not wear headcover or the black abaya as long as their attire is “decent and respectful,” reported Reuters. Earlier, the women had been granted the right to attend sports events and drive.
The Prince said that it was entirely up to the women to decide in what way to conduct themselves as far as decency of dressing is concerned. The Abaya is not mandatory and will be a choice, as per his words. However, the country does not have a written code that is legal and function according to Muslim laws called sharia. It is not clear if, with the Prince’s statement, the choice of women will be upheld as mandatory. TWJ is awaiting a response from the Saudi Arabian Embassy at the time of filing of this report.
Saudi Arabia has seen many changes in the recent past with respect to women’s rights. On March 8, International Women’s Day, Saudi women went jogging, a right they had acquired recently. In the world of clothing too, women have started wearing colorful abayas as opposed to the traditional black.
These changes correspond with the change of rule in the country that witnessed 32 year old Prince Mohammad come to power. It was under his rule that major decisions like the right to drive for women were implemented. These changes are seen as a part of the Prince’s goal of giving a modern look to Saudi Arabia in the eyes of the world.
Women activists in the country had been fighting for the right to drive for years and have even been attacked for the same. Activists like Manal al-Sharif who filmed herself driving a car was arrested and subjected to death threats. These changes are taking the country closer towards its women’s long time demand of freedom from guardianship of men.