Islam, official religion of Saudi Arabia, does not welcome or encourage friendship between men and women. Saudi Arabia is very conservative society where any kind of closeness between men and women is considered against the cultural traditions of Saudi Arabia. Religious rigidity puts more restrictions on women and they are kept under the supervision of male members of family. This paper intends to discuss friendship of men and women in society of Saudi Arabia and examines how lifting bans from Saudi women will promote friendship between men and women.
Sex segregation is one common thing in Islamic societies and Islam suggests its followers to keep women in close observation. Saudi, like other Islamic societies, believes in keeping women inside the houses and in such conditions any friendship between men and women is not considered good. Saudi, in fact, believes in tougher restrictions on women and extreme segregation of women is practiced in Saudi Arabia. Women are not allowed to go outside their houses without a male member of family (Abu-Nasr, 2013).
Strict monitoring and subjugation of Saudi women leaves no scope for friendship with men. This issue is so sensitive that restrictions are not only on women but even men are subjected to certain restrictions. Any advancement from towards women or their effort to talk from to women is not considered good and staring at any woman is considered highly objectionable. Men are allowed to wear shorts but shorts should be long enough to reach below their knees.
Winds of changes
In recent years, situation is slightly changed and women have started going out of their houses. Women are in touch of social media and social networking sites like Facebook, twitter are exposing them to the world. Women and men are becoming friends and share their views on several issues. Number of Saudi working women is increasing and society is also gradually accepting such changes. Saudi women are befriending with men colleagues at their workplaces and are also challenging male monopoly in Saudi Arabia (Ghada, 2012).
Since Women have started going and working outside, few of them have also started demanding rights to drive cars. King Abdullah is giving more rights to Saudi women after the Arab spring that will open new ways for women and they can befriend men. Almost every sector is now open for Saudi women where they are working with men and befriending with them. Saudi women also want to enjoy their life and want to stand with men. Madiha al-Ajroush, Riyadh based psychologist says, “We are looking for a normal way of life, for me to get into my car and do something as small as get myself a cappuccino or something as grand as taking my child to the emergency room” (Hubbard, 2013).
Measures to improve the situation
Saudi women require more rights that will make them equal to men and men will consider women as their friends and not subordinates. Weird restrictions on Saudi women should be rescinded without delay in order to make them confident and self dependent. Removing such restrictions from women will allow them to contact with men and they will become friends. Government should also promote Saudi women because the gap between men and women is required to be filled (AlMunajjed, 1997).
Keeping Saudi women the house disconnects them socially and not allowing them to go outside seizes all the opportunities of men and women friendship. It also blocks their contact with men and they do not get opportunities to befriend with men. Education is a medium that can open the doors for Saudi women and they can work and befriend with men. Along with education, Saudi women should be given technical training in order to make them more skillful and get them jobs. This will further help both Saudi men and women in befriending with one another (AlMunajjed, 1997).
After having short and snappy view of the above mentioned subject, it can be concluded that Saudi women are subjected to a number of unnecessary restrictions that block their access to society and prevent them from being friends with men. The concept of friendship between men and women is not recognized in Saudi society. The society has a very conservative approach towards Saudi women and they are treated in very weird ways. The society is influenced and obsessed with Islamic views that do not recognize equality of women and prevents them to befriend with men.
Abu-Nasr, D. (2013, June 5). Bloomberg. Retrieved Novemeber 25, 2013, from www.bloomberg.com: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-04/saudi-women-more-educated-than-men-are-wasted-resource.html
AlMunajjed, M. (1997). Women in Saudi Arabia Today. USA: St. Martin's Press.
Ghada, A. D. (2012). Not Just a Saudi Woman. Pittsburgh, PA: Dorrance Publishing.
Hubbard, B. (2013, October 26). The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from www.nytimes.com: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/world/middleeast/a-mostly-quiet-effort-to-put-saudi-women-in-drivers-seats.html?_r=0