In another unexplainable move to preserve chastity and purity, Saudi Arabia’s national airline soon plans to segregate its male and female passengers.
Despite being a strictly conservative state that does not encourage interaction of men and women who are not related by either blood or marriage, the airline has never felt the need to practice segregation before- at least not while boarding. Care is always taken to ensure unrelated male and females are not seated together though.
So what happened now?
It is said that the need was felt after customers complained about on-board gender mixing; on flights to Israel. When objections were made, the women refused to move away from men.
"There are solutions to this problem," said Abdul Rahman Al Fahd, the assistant manager of the Saudi national carrier. "We will soon enforce rules that will satisfy all passengers."
The staff at Saudi Arabia's airports would be instructed to keep men and women segregated on board Saudia planes, unless they are close relatives.
The issue of segregation is not only isolated to the Saudi Airlines however, a Delta flight from New York to Israel was recently delayed when ultra-Orthodox passengers refused to sit with women.
The situation was problematic enough to warrant a petition on Change.org urging Israeli carrier El Al to stop allowing female passengers to be "bullied, harassed, and intimidated into switching seats."
Still, it is mindboggling to witness such incidences in this day and age. Saudi Arabia is extremely conservative when it comes to its women. They cannot travel without their spouses or legal guardian’s permission and are required to stay covered from head to toe while outside their homes. Amenities like going to a library or even driving are prohibited to them.
Things have been getting somewhat better in recent years. The Saudi government has even indicated moving away from the orthodox clergy that has so far enjoyed way too many powers and control the society almost with an iron rod.
However, the incident is clearly an indication of how much more needs to be done before things for Saudi women get better.