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On September 26th 2017, Saudi Arabia finally granted its female citizens the right to drive. Whilst women were not banned from getting behind the wheel, Saudi law required citizens to use a locally issued license whilst in the country. Funnily enough, these licenses could not be issued to women. Therefore, it was effectively illegal for women to drive.
This latest move in the Kingdom is part of an ongoing political shakeup which has so far seen an abolishment of tax-free living and a move away from oil, as well as the introduction of a new Saudi green card.
Whilst this a breakthrough for Saudi Arabia, which has some of the harshest gender-based laws in the world, there are still other countries that are discriminating against women. Hopefully, the following countries can follow in Saudi Arabia’s footsteps…
In Yemen, if a woman is providing a legal testimony she is only considered as half a witness. From their own legislation, a woman is not recognised as a full person before the court. In short, a woman’s words are not taken seriously unless backed by a man. Also, women cannot testify in court cases relating to libel, theft, adultery or sexual abuse.
Sadly, in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, women who are hurt in a sexual manner aren’t protected. However, the countries go one further and actually persecute women for leaving the house without a man, for being alone with a man who isn’t a relative, or for getting pregnant as a result of an attack. Women face crime charges and are often forced to marry the criminal if they fall pregnant.
Since Saudi Arabia granted women the right to vote in 2015, Vatican City remains the only place in the world where women cannot place a vote.
The situation for women in Ecuador is very sad. Not only is abortion illegal, even to victims of attacks, but the law if frequently used to criminalise women who have tragically had miscarriages. The only women exempt from the ban are those considered as ‘idiots’ or who are ‘demented’.
In some Indian states, women exempt from road safety rules. Women do not have to wear a motorcycle helmet, meaning thousands of women are injured and killed each year. Although some may argue this is down to the women themselves, many women’s rights activists consider it a culture-wide devaluation of women’s lives.
Despite the countries above having different rules than what many of us are used to, each is unique and rich in culture. Why not visit our country guides page to learn more about each country?
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