Women in Saudi Arabia: And the Source of Rights and Restrictions

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Class Paper

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Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia has been a highlighted topic recently, as several human rights violations against women have come to light. The treatment of women in Saudi can seem quite misogynistic, especially from a Western perspective. From a Western perspective, there are some practices in Islam, and thus in Saudi, that seem sexist, such as separating women and men in the mosque and other places in society, like the workplace. However, from their view, certain practices in their religion and culture are absolutely necessary to their faith; in this instance, because sexual sin is of utmost defilement, and they have to merit paradise, separating men and women in the mosque and other places in society is a faithful step toward honoring God, not necessarily an attempt to degrade women. The role of women and the treatment of women in the home and in society is vastly different than in the West, especially since the West does not adhere to Sharia Law. Some of these things in Sharia Law may seem foreign to a Westerner, but they are culturally normal in Saudi Arabia. Though there are cases where a Western worldview will not make sense of the situation, there also are cases that are more widely recognized as injustices by most worldviews. Why have there been so many human rights violations in regard to women in Saudi? My argument is that Sharia law and Sunni, or more specifically Wahhabi, interpretations of Quranic teachings greatly contribute to the human rights violations and restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia. I will conduct a case study of the country, looking at their laws regarding women and looking at the treatment of women as is portrayed in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Fatwa.


This paper was submitted as part of the Third World Politics course (PSCI 4133) taught by Dr. Doug Reed.

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