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With the driving ban victory still fresh, Saudi women’s rights activists are eyeing up the next hurdle – dismantling the kingdom’s guardianship system, which Human Rights Watch has called “the most significant impediment to realising women’s rights in the country”.
All women in the kingdom are considered to have a male “wali” – an official guardian, typically a father, brother, uncle or husband.
Women are not allowed to use public swimming pools available to men and can swim only in private ones or female-only gyms and spas.
“Our society can be very conservative,” said Prince Fahad bin Jalawi al-Saud, a consultant to the Saudi Olympic Committee.Women are required to limit the amount of time spent with men to whom they are not related.The majority of public buildings, including offices, banks and universities, have separate entrances for the different sexes, the Daily Telegraph reports.But this does not stop the religious police from harassing women for exposing what they consider to be too much flesh or wearing too much make-up.Last year, a prominent cleric called for even more modesty, urging the nation’s “daughters” to avoid “any abaya that has any decorations… Two weeks later, a video circulated on social media showing an anonymous Saudi woman walking around a deserted fort north of Riyadh wearing a miniskirt, in seeming defiance of such strict regulations on women’s clothing.