Misogynistic, religious and moral policing of women has been one of the most contentious issues surrounding Saudi Arabia for as long as anyone can remember and here’s the most recent example of it.
Restaurants in the Gulf kingdom have banned single women – the ones not accompanied by a husband or male guardian – from entering because of numerous incidents of indecent behavior. Several eateries have reportedly put up signs that say “women are not allowed.”
"We'll only remove these signs when we make sure such incidents never happen again on our premises,” a restaurant owner told the Arabic-language Al-Hayat newspaper.
Although the country’s law doesn’t forbid women to enter restaurants without a male chaperon, they are being banned anyway – just like driving is not legally prohibited for women but there has been a long-standing ban on that.
The move by Saudi restaurant owners has elicited a lot of criticism.
The kingdom's National Society For Human Rights says the signs on the doors of eateries are illegal.
"These signs are against the law and reflect the personal opinions of the restaurant owners," NSHR spokesman Khalid Al-Fakhri told the Saudi Gazette.
The paper quotes one woman as saying, "If they're going to ban us from entering restaurants, where are we supposed to go?" – pointing out that restaurants are some of the few establishments where Saudi women can go unaccompanied.
The absurd assertion, though, is not particularly shocking coming from a country like Saudi Arabia which has a long way to go in protecting – or even recognizing – women's rights.
The orthodox Islamic country doesn’t even allow women to ride bikes without a male blood relative. No wonder it has frequently been voted as one of the top five countries worst for women in the world.