- Saudi Arabia’s national polling agency says there is no gender discrimination in the country.
- Citing the results of a survey, the National Centre for Public Opinion Polls on Sunday declared “the absence of any form of gender discrimination in Saudi society.”
- This claim is easy to disprove. Saudi law gives men legal authority over women, who need permission to travel, marry, or get a job.
- Saudi Arabia ranks 141st out of 149 countries for its gender equality gap, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 report.
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Saudi Arabia’s national pollsters cheerfully declared that there is no gender discrimination in the country, citing the supposedly definitive results of a survey of mostly Saudi men.
The National Centre for Public Opinion Polls, a private body which regularly does polling work for the Saudi government, published the results of the survey on hatred, discrimination, and racism on Sunday.
They wrote: “The results of the survey confirmed the absence of any form of gender discrimination in Saudi society.”
The claim is easy to disprove, as Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s worst records on gender inequality.
- REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
Saudi Arabia ranks 141st out of 149 countries for gender discrimination, according to a 2018 ranking by the World Economic Forum.
One of the most obvious reasons for this is Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, which gives men legal authority over women.
Saudi women need a man’s permission to marry, open a checking account, go to school, leave the country, play sports, or talk to a man they are not related to.
Women in Saudi Arabia are also subject to several laws which render them second-class citizens. The 1992 Basic Law of Saudi Arabia, which works in conjunction with Shariah law, does not consider men and women to be equal.
- Leon Neal/Getty Images
A clear example is that men have the right to unilateral divorce, while women’s rights to divorce are restricted.
Women were only given the legal right to drive in June 2018. Several of the women who campaigned for a change in the law remain in jail, including activist Loujain al-Hathloul who says she has been beaten “until her thighs were black with bruises.”
Dozens of other women’s rights activists have been arrested on suspicion of harming the country’s interests and detained for peaceful protest.
- Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser
The National Centre for Public Opinion Polls tweeted that they reached their conclusion after surveying 1,057 Saudi citizens. 65% were men, and 35% women.
According to the centre, 78% of respondents said they had never been discriminated against at all.
The 22% who did say they had been discriminated against said it was for reasons including their tribe, beliefs, where they lived, or their skin color. Apparently none cited their gender.
The center gave no more information.