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Saudi Arabian Women Banned From Jogging in the Streets?

From Global Voices Online:

A street in Asir Province, Saudi Arabia, where many women liked to exercise has recently been shut off to female joggers, as it has been deemed unsafe by the Haia (Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice).

The Haia stated the reasons for its closure were that it is poorly lit and in an area known for its crime: therefore it was being shut to protect women.

And because the male blogger who goes by "Saudi Jeans" and who lives, according to his blog, just "east of Saudi Arabia," has broken it down perfectly, I give you his take:

You can say that this decision by Haia is part preemptive strike, part blaming the victim. Instead of watching these so-called unsafe areas and protect the women by arresting people who attempt to harass them, they go and prevent women from exercising there.

It seems, certainly, like a terrible injustice. Now women in Saudi Arabia who wish to exercise outside are being banned from an area deemed unsafe solely to them, while the government lets itself off the hook from investigating what's going on and how to address it? That's it?

Score 1 for the criminals and less than zero for Saudi Arabian women.

But Saudi Jeans notes that the idea that this one street is unsafe is a lie to begin with:

"...this was disputed by one jogger, R.S Al-Shahri, who claimed that the street was safe and well-lit, while almost 30 women would walk there between sunset and Isha prayers."

Apparently, blocking women from exercising has been a hobby for the Saudi government, placing restrictions on exercise facilities for women in the past.

Read more at Global Voices Online.


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