Case Study – Saudi Arabia

When deciding on this topic in particular, I knew it would benefit from reviewing a case study. Saudi Arabia was an interesting one for me as it is a very traditional patriarchal society and so, has many issues with women’s rights.


One reading was particularly interesting for this case study, this being “Saudi Arabia: 10 Reasons why Women Flee” by Human Rights Watch. Within this reading they gave 10 reasons women’s rights aren’t equal to mens due to the Male Guardianship System (MGS). For the purpose of this blog, I chose to look at 4 of these and will go on to discuss these.

Before looking into these reasons, it must be made evident that in Saudi Arabia, when a female is born they are given a Male Guardian, this can be a father or a husband once they are old enough. The Male Guardian has complete control over many aspects of life, and as stated by Human rights Watch, women are essentially “Legal Minors” (HRW 2019).

No Freedom for Travel:

  • In order to travel they must have their MG’s approval
  • Many women attempt to run away whilst on family holidays to different countries

No choice over marriage:

  • MG must permit the marriage
  • Men can marry up to 4 women at a time, women are only allowed one husband
  • There is NO minimum age for marriage

Domestic Violence:

  • Between the year of 2015 and 2016 there was approximately 8000 cases of domestic violence against women in Saudi Arabia
  • The MGS makes it incredibly difficult for women to seek help for the abuse

Inequality in Divorce, Inheritance and Child Custody:

  • In Saudi Arabia, personal law is based on traditional Islamic law – this means that Saudi Arabia has no formal family law.
  • Men are permitted to divorce women without any notice or reason, where as women must get approval from their MG to seek divorce
  • Women also have no legal right to be their child’s legal guardian
  • Finally, in terms of inheritance women are only able to inherit half of what males are entitled to.

These are only a small number of issues women face in Saudi Arabia, and it must be remembered that many of these women face these issues daily. The final blog post will discuss whether or not anything has been done to combat these issues.


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