Strutting like she owned the streets, this defiant Saudi woman was getting attention from every angle as she marched along the hard marble floor, people gasping as she made her way through the Riyadh mall, WITHOUT a body-shrouding abaya.
She was not wearing the traditional garment, worn by women, usually all in black, this garment is usually worn in the Islamic kingdom and seen as a piety symbol.
It was only last year that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was hinting that, during a CBS interview, the dress code could be relaxed, he said the robe was not obligatory in Islam.
Even though he said that showing his liberal attitude, the practice still continued and there was no official rule that followed to actually confirm what he said.
Women fought back and organized a kind of protest, they used social media and to show their feelings against the restriction they shared pictures of themselves, all wearing the garments inside out!
Even though they risk starting something that they don’t want to finish, many more now leave their cloaks open in the front, or wear them in bright colors…
Well, after the sparks had started people felt inspired, like Mashael al-Jaloud, who has rebelled culturally that one step further, she has stopped wearing the traditional garment.
The HR specialist, 33 years old had a little walk through the mall last week, only wearing an orange top over some baggy trousers.
The onlookers were heard to be gasping, they certainly had raised eyebrows as she walked by, more women that were veiled from head to toe looked on, stunned so much they could only stare as she went by, some thought her to be a celebrity of some sort.
One woman asked her:
“Are you famous? …Are you a model?”
But the woman just laughed and said she was a normal Saudi woman, she said:
“I just want to live”
Well, we can’t argue with that, we all want to live…
Looks like we will be seeing this more and more, one of those women is Manahel al-Otaibi, a 25-year-old activist, she has also foregone the garment.
“For four months I have been living in Riyadh without an abaya …I just want to live the way I want, freely and without restrictions. No one should force me to wear something I don’t want.”
Attitudes are changing, at least for some, while others still want to stick rigidly to their ideas of what women should do, we welcome all forward movement in attitudes for all women.
One person said:
“There are no clear laws, no protection. I might be at risk, might be subjected to assault from religious fanatics because I am without an abaya”
The same person posted a video on Twitter showing the harsh truth of the situation that another woman, trying to go to the Riyadh mall, had been stopped her from entering without wearing an abaya.
The woman had tried to tell the guard about Prince Mohammed’s television interview, the one where he said women were only expected to wear “decent, respectful clothing” and didn’t have to wear an abaya.
They responded to her post, and the mall tweeted that it would not permit entry to “violators of public morals”.
Old ideas emerged as there was a Saudi royal who said that, on Twitter, she was a seeker of attention, and she should be punished for the “provocative” act of that day.
Others faced the same sort of hostility, at the sale mall, where a fully veiled woman said she would call the police because she was in public without the abaya.
The woman is still defiant but has to wear the garment and headscarf to work as she can’t risk losing her job.
Prince Mohammed, a foresighted Prince, we believe, shakes off his country’s ultra-conservative image and allows mixed-gender concerts and greater freedoms for women, including the right to drive.
What do you think, tell us in the comments below, for or against?