When you pass by the same door is a breakthrough for women

Saudi Arabia has abolished the obligation of cafes and restaurants have separate entrances for men and women. The authorities have submitted the measure as an u

When you pass by the same door is a breakthrough for women

Saudi Arabia has abolished the obligation of cafes and restaurants have separate entrances for men and women. The authorities have submitted the measure as an update of the city's regulations that will make things easier for investors, citizens and entrepreneurs. In fact, in the big cities already had hotels the jumped. Although the decree does not mention the segregation in the interior of the premises, is another small step forward for the saudis in the public life.

Or the Acoustic of Riyadh or the Overdose of Jeddah have separate entrances. In recent years, some of the new cafés and restaurants have bypassed that requirement at the apparent blind eye of the authorities. But even younger customers recall having been diverted to the entry “families” when they accompanied their mothers and sisters to the local life. Because in Saudi Arabia, until recently one of the countries most segregated in the world, the men entered through the main door and the women by a lateral or secondary school. And not only in cafés, but also in banks, hospitals and public offices.

“I was very pleased, although I know that there are other more important things. It is a change that indicates a new mentality, a new society, a new Saudi Arabia,” says Abeer, a young man of 25 years in Jeddah, the country's second city, on the shores of the Red sea.


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The decision is the result of the economic and social reforms undertaken by the crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, with the aim to modernize the country and make it more attractive to investors, and comes at a critical moment for the image of the regime, which has just been condemn to death five men for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate of saudi arabia in Istanbul in October 2018 following a process very challenged. For a large part of the new generations (75% of the 24 million saudis have less than 35 years), the reforms were long due and that has made them hope in the future. Abeer is even rethinking plans to leave the country with that road in the university. “Now I think I'm going to be able to live the life I want here”, trust.

To this end he has contributed not only to the Desert Kingdom have been allowed, finally, that women are driving, but changes less-publicized but equally or more relevant as its full access to the labour market, which were very limited. In addition, the divorce and the custody of children have been made more equitable, and have removed restrictions on the movement of females. For the past four months, the biggest of age can obtain a passport and travel abroad without the permission of the male head of the family, another step in the dismantling of the system of guardianship. Abeer would have preferred to abolish all (you need the permission of his father to marry, for example). But you see this gradual progress as a way of not upsetting the more conservative.

The crown prince intended to give the exterior an image of modernity

there perhaps that the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has included the ad ends with the requirement of inputs segregated establishments between 103 rules that include the minimum distance between private schools. In addition, the new ordinance is not mandatory, which means that the local people can maintain the double-entry if their owners so wish. The text also clarifies whether within the same is allowed to men and women (non family) to be able to sit without separation; the usual up to now was that there was a room for men and one for families, although the thread of the liberalization of recent years have begun to emerge spaces mixed.

“it is Not enough. We continue to prey of the legal uncertainty because only changes are superficial and limited that do not go to the heart of the problem: the patriarchal view of woman as an inferior being that needs to protect that predominates in our society,” says Maha, an executive working in Riyadh.

Criticism on social networks

indeed, despite the limited nature of the reform, which does not reach or to hospitals or other places of work, just to peek to the social networks to find those who express their opposition to the change. “Yes, this is the development... the abdication of our principles and our religion. (...) We used to say that our religion and our water were the red line...”, he wrote on Twitter user, identified as @enginaar_12 and is presented as a lover of horses. Another is concerned about “going to eat with your wife and someone you know may see them”, that is to say, you can see the face of his wife. Most of the saudis are covered with the niqab, the veil that covers the face with a slit for the eyes.

“it is Not enough. Make only superficial changes”, writes Maha, an executive

“you do Not see us as human beings, only as slaves. I don't know what happens to them,” says Abeer. “Many are angry because they perceive it as a threat; they are people who live a life very traditional and don't want to change”, he adds without losing the hope that, with time, accept that society evolves.

it Is difficult to know how representative these complaints are covered in the anonymity of the social networks, since in parallel to the opening social has intensified the repression of the critics. Dozens of intellectuals, clerics and activists have been detained since 2017, not only between those who reject the reforms, but even among those who did campaign for some of them such as the right of women to drive.

Wasteful in addition to discriminatory

The double-entry in cafes, restaurants and other public facilities is the result of sexual segregation that has prevailed in Saudi Arabia from boom the oil of the seventies. Beyond the justifications on religious and cultural, only wealth has allowed you to duplicate offices and services to cater separately to men and women. It is a measure of uneconomical hospitals, despite having wings, separated to admit the patients of one or the other sex, was rejected in operating rooms and consultations, so that the health professionals carrying decades of working together.

“sometimes I use the input of men,” he confided to me Sommaya Jabarti when I interviewed her, after being appointed director of Saudi Gazette in 2014, the first saudi arabian to head a newspaper. But what is most surprising, he explained, is that the segregation is maintained because of women. “Many want their own input, work separate,” said despite the fact that she has always advocated that both men and women to work together.

many Others, however, have lived in this apartment as a discrimination. And not all have been as strong as Jabarti, now deputy director of the Arab News. Such is the case of Iman al Qahtani, a young journalist that was an outrageous thing to be obliged to use the back door to get to his office in the economic journal The Eqtesadiah. “why can't we work very closely with our colleagues?”, wondered time and time again without getting any convincing response. His fight against injustice ended up passing him bill and her health was affected.

Date Of Update: 26 December 2019, 00:00