For the first time ever, a country which is notorious for its ultraconservative values has made an effort towards the relaxation of rules and regulations that have long suffocated a major chunk of its population.
The women in Saudi Arabia may not have permission to drive cars, but the government has now allowed women to ride motorbikes and bicycles. There are some restrictions though, some ifs and buts, which come along with the lifting of the ban. They are:
1- You Can Ride, But The Area May Not Be That Wide:
The women can ride but only in recreational areas such as parks and playgrounds.
2- Bring Your “Mahram” Along Because You Have To:
Like everything else in Saudi Arabia, a woman must bring along a ‘Mahram’, her husband or any unmarriageable kin. If a woman doesn’t have a Mahram then the ban for her, at least, is useless.
3- Proper Clothes!
A woman must wear proper Hijab, which means she should cover her hair and wear absolutely non-revealing clothes.
4- Ride For Entertainment?
Women can ride but only for entertainment. They cannot use the permitted vehicles for transportation or other serious stuff.
5- Avoid Men And Harassment:
Places crowded with men must be avoided by women on their bikes. There are two reasons for this restriction; first is that if you have men around you, there are chances that you’ll be harassed. The other reason why women should avoid public places (with men) is that they can cause a lot of distraction. So drive safe, drive alone.
Soon after the news was released, mixed reactions were received from people all over the world. Some think that it is a baby step taken by the Saudi government towards ‘liberalism’ while some don’t seem to understand the point of lifting the ban with so many restrictions. Following are some of the comments from Twitter that were interesting and thought-provoking as well:
Saudi Arabia allows women to ride bikes for first time; as long as they wear the black bag and have a male relative with them. Whee! Fun!— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) April 2, 2013
Saudi religious police has allowed women 2 ride bikes in parks,but they must be with a male relative&dressed modestly twitter.com/RanaYassine/st…— Rana Yassine (@RanaYassine) April 3, 2013
Saudi women can now use bikes! Only for entertainment...only in segregated parks. Only for entertainment??? What does that mean???— Tyler Wold(@TylerWold) April 3, 2013
This can definitely be considered as a positive development, but the aforementioned restrictions make everything meaningless, don’t you think?
We would like to know your views. Do reply in the comments section and share your thoughts.