Saudi Woman Wearing Skirt In Video Released

Authorities in Saudi Arabia are trying to find the woman who posted a video of herself walking through a village wearing a crop top and a miniskirt.

Update: According to CBS News, the Saudi woman was detained for wearing a mini skirt, but then released without charges. A statement released by the Center for International Communication said that police had released the woman after she alleged that the video had been posted on social media without her knowledge or consent. "She was released without charges and the case has been closed by the prosecutor," the statement also read..

It was a rare and meaningful win for women's rights activists, who spoke out against the public outcry that lead to the woman's eventual arrest.

“Saudi Arabia’s continuing obsession with policing women’s clothing choices shows authorities haven’t moved on from the paternalistic and discriminatory mind-set that hampers women’s lives,” Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, told the Washington Post. “Saudi Arabia’s purported plans to reshape society and advance women’s rights will never succeed as long as authorities go after women for what they wear.”

Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive or travel abroad without the presence of a male guardian, nor does it allow them to wear short or tight clothing — at least in public. In fact, the conservative kingdom legally requires women to wear long robes, known as an “abaya,” and cover their heads. Most women also cover their faces with a veil.

However, over the weekend, a woman decided to walk around a historic fort in Ushayqir village, north of Riyadh, wearing a crop top and a miniskirt and then proceeded to share a video of herself on social media, where it immediately went viral.

The video, initially posted on Snapchat before people began sharing it on Twitter, soon drew attention of the authorities. Within 24 hours after the woman, identified as a model named Khulood, posted the video, Saudi Arabia's literal morality police, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, issued a statement.

“Spokesman of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh: The Presidency has identified a video of a girl in a different kind of dress, and is coordinating with the authorities to investigate it,” the commission posted on social media.

Shortly after that, the Riyadh police reportedly issued an arrest warrant for the Snapchat user.

According to a Saudi newspaper, The Okaz, officials in Ushayqir have called on the authorities to take action against the woman.

It is important to note the Ushayqir historic village is not only one of the most conservative parts of the country, but also a religiously sacred place for Wahabi Muslims as it is where Mohammad ibn Abd al Wahhab, the creator of Wahhabism, was born.

So far, the reaction on the social media has been mixed:

“We should respect the laws of the country. In France, the niqab [face-covering veil] is banned and women are fined if they wear it. In Saudi Arabia, wearing abayas and modest clothing is part of the kingdom's laws.”

“Frankly we cannot remain silent. Now human rights activists will defend her and will say this is personal freedom.”

"We demand that Khoulud be tried because she acted irresponsibly. Whether you like it or not, you have to respect the law. If everyone rebelled against the law because they did not like it, it would be a mess."

However, there are some calling the woman “brave” for daring to take stand against patriarchy:

"If she was a foreign girl, they would be courting to her beauty and her pretty eyes, but because she is a Saudi they demanded that she be tried."

Several social media users also drew comparisons to U.S. first lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump.

“The Saudi community displays contradictions. It does not mind that Trump's daughter walks in similar dress for hours. But they insult a Saudi girl and demand that she be tried.”

“I don’t see any difference between those two photos: 1- When Trump’s daughter is on TV screens, we support women rights. 2- But nobody cares about the Saudi woman because she is not on TV, and they are calling for her arrest.”

“Okay stop, we have solved the problem.”

It is unclear if the woman has yet been arrested.

Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

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