The Heat: Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia

The Heat

FILE — In this May 11, 2014 file photo, a Saudi woman seen through a heart-shaped statue walks along an inlet of the Red Sea in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. A young Saudi woman has sparked a sensation online by posting a video of herself in a miniskirt and crop top walking around in public, with some Saudis calling for her arrest and others rushing to her defense. The video, first shared on Snapchat, shows her walking around an empty historic fort in Ushaiager, a village north of the capital, Riyadh, in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia’s most conservative tribes and families are from. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

Saudi Arabia legally requires women to cover themselves in public by wearing long black cloaks known an abayas.

Traditionally, women are expected to wear some kind of headscarf or hijab and some opt to cover their face with a niqab leaving a slit for their eyes.

A recent video posted online of a woman wearing suggestive clothing at an historic landmark near Riyadh, created a lot of controversy. Some Saudis called for the woman to be arrested and put on trial.

Police detained the woman but when it was determined the video was published without her knowledge, she was released.

Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s strictest laws for women requiring permission from a male guardian to do such things such as work or travel and women are prohibited from getting driver’s licenses.

In recent years, women have been granted more freedoms including the right to vote. The appointment of the new crown prince brings promise of change.

Tonight’s panel takes a look at the changes and challenges for millions of women in Saudi Arabia: 

  • Maha Akeel, a journalist and author
  • Fatin Bundagji, a former appointed member of the Board of Directors of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Fatimah Baeshen, the director of the Arabia Foundation
  • Moudi Aljohani, a Saudi Human Rights Activist