A young woman in Saudi Arabia has been arrested for "suggestive clothing" after she posted a video on Twitter wearing a cropped shirt and a skirt, according to The Washington Post.
Khulood, a popular user on social media, originally posted the videos on Snapchat, showing her strolling through an ancient fort in Najd. Laws in Saudi Arabia require women to remain covered up—they wear a loose-fitting cloak, along with a hijab or niqab to cover their head or face. Foreigners are usually exempted from this rule, and some Saudi women try to find other ways around them. In the video, Khulood doesn't wear a headscarf or a cloak, which is considered scandalous. Religious police will sometimes harass women for showing off skin or wearing too much make-up.
The videos sparked controversy on Twitter. While some offered support for her bravery, others said she should go on trial for her clothing choices. Crowds on Twitter also argued that the people behind the camera should have the same fate as Khulood. “Just like we call on people to respect the laws of countries they travel to, people must also respect the laws of this country,” Ibrahim al-Munayif, a Saudi writer, tweeted.
— فــّــواز الوايلي (@1__shadw) July 16, 2017
Saudi Arabia has some of the strictest rules when it comes to women. In addition to the modest dress code, women cannot get driver's licenses, so they cannot drive—a rule that Khulood has also broken. Women need permission from a male guardian, such as a husband or father, before doing many basic tasks. In September 2016, 14,000 women signed a petition to get rid of the restrictive guardian system, which prevents women from getting a passport or traveling without male consent. Some public buildings like banks and universities have separate entrances for men and women. Women can't even use shared swimming pools! "This traditional system should be removed completely as demanded by women activists and it should not be continued as a culture or custom," wrote Saudi columnist Abdullah Al-Alweet.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been creating a new social system for the country, called "Vision 2030." Whether he'll be addressing the issues of gender inequality is still unclear, according toThe Washington Post. However, he issued an order earlier this year that would allow women to receive government services like education and healthcare without getting permission from a man. "Now at least it opens the door for discussion on the guardian system," said Maha Akeel, a women's rights campaigner. "Women are independent and can take care of themselves."
Some women in the U.S. choose to wear modest clothing of their own accord, but we should feel lucky that our dress code isn't required by law. "Saudi Arabia is the world's most gender-segregated nation, but amid changes now under way, multiple generations of women are debating how to be truly modern and truly Saudi," according to National Geographic. You go, girls!