At least 1,000 women ‘flee Saudi Arabia every year because of sexism’

Author: Will Worley
Date: 21/03/2017




At least 1,000 Saudi Arabian women flee the country each year because of the country’s ingrained misogyny, a sociologist based in the country’s capital Riyadh has claimed.

Higher numbers are also believed to leave for the more liberal city of Jeddah.

They are part of an apparently increasing number of women who have tired of the country’s highly sexist social system and decided to leave for a better life, according to Mansour al-Askar of the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University.

He told The Economist that he estimated more than 1,000 women leave every year.

Saudi Arabia adheres to a harsh version of Wahhabi Sunni Islam and is notorious for strict Sharia law it employs. It remains the only country on earth where women are banned from driving.

Women and are also subject to walis, or male guardians, throughout their lives – usually their father, husband or other male relative.

They must have their permission before engaging in almost any sort of activity, from getting an education or job, to simply leaving the house.

In Saudi Arabia, a woman’s freedom “is largely dependent on the good will of her male guardian,” according to a 2016 report Human Rights Watch.

The organisation has called the guardian system: “The most significant impediment to realising women’s rights in the country”.

While it is difficult to quantify the precise number of women leaving their homeland, some academics have claimed that it is affecting the oil rich country’s economy and society

“Saudi Arabia is losing the battle to keep its talent,” Saudi academic, Najah al-Osaimi, told The Economist.