Just when you think things were getting better for women in Saudi Arabia, something comes along and proves otherwise. Allowing women to vote and run as candidates in municipal elections last December was hailed as a victory for women’s rights in the Kingdom, but it wasn’t long before someone reminded the world that they were still not allowed to drive to the polling stations.
Now it seems that things are only getting worse, with photographs emerging on social media showing signs stuck in Saudi store windows, barring women from entry.
The signs inform women that they are not allowed to enter the premises, and must send in their driver instead. Some of the signs noted that the orders had come from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia's notorious religious police who enforce a strict interpretation of Sharia law.
In response to the pictures, the hashtag مقاطعة محلات تمنع دخول النساء# (county shops prevent the entry of women) began trending, with Twitter users expressing both outrage and support over the clear gender discrimination. While some argued that the shops were very much in the wrong, others pointed out that there are plenty of venues in Saudi Arabia which bar entry to men.
See some reactions below, via Twitter.
#مقاطعة_محلات_تمنع_دخول_النساء— محمد (@mdhn1401) January 28, 2016
الشباب ممنوعين من أسواق وليست محلات ولم نشاهدهم يلطمون
Young men are forbidden from entering shops and markets but you don't see them complaining.
#مقاطعة_محلات_تمنع_دخول_النساء ياامجتمعنا لازم التغلب على هذه الامور ضدنا عشان يكون مجتمع طبيعي— T5yl (@t5yl_) January 28, 2016
Our society needs to get over these things in order to become a normal society
#مقاطعة_محلات_تمنع_دخول_النساء القرار جيد لإرجاع هيبة هيئة الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر وسلبي من ناحية أن بعض النساء ليس لديهم رجل— Maha Altamimi (@1987maha) January 29, 2016
Good decision to return the prestige of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, and negative in the sense that some women do not have a man
#مقاطعة_محلات_تمنع_دخول_النساء ارى في هذا القرار حبس لحرية المرأه ونبذها اجتماعيا.— acamar (@thestars99) January 29, 2016
I see in this decision the imprisonment of women's freedom and their social ostracizing