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” asked Abdullah Hejazi, my boyish-looking guide in Old Jidda.
Under a glowing Arab moon on a hot winter night, Abdullah was showing off the jewels of his city—charming green, blue, and brown houses built on the Red Sea more than a hundred years ago.
On March 15, 2002, 15 schoolgirls died because religious police (also called the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice”) refused to let them exit a burning building due to their dress, sparking a backlash against the police and their practices.
Along with dress code, the religious police force also enforces segregation on the basis of sex, driving restrictions on women, and designated prayer times for people attending mosque. The state religion is Islam, and all citizens are required to be Muslims.
Government-granted “Rights of Age” Saudi Arabia is one of the four countries in the world that has not granted women the right to vote, along with Bhutan, Brunei, and Lebanon (which has an education restriction for women, but not for men). In Saudi Arabia, drinking alcohol, no matter what age, is forbidden.
Recognizing its constitution as the Koran, Saudi Arabia utilizes the text as a religious justification in outlawing the substance.
Education System Saudi Arabia’s education system leaves minimal freedom for the student to explore paths of thought diverging from the one prescribed by the Government.
Prince Fahn bin Sultan, Tabouk District Governor, stated that “There is no room for personal commentary by a teacher who sets the curriculum aside.
The employment age of Saudi Arabia is 13, yet there are restrictions on the type of work and the length of work (6 hours a day). There is no specific age restriction for marriage, but as dictated by Islamic tradition, the age of marriage must “ensure happiness for both spouses and prevent the countless social dangers inherent in delaying the age of marriage…the person wishing to marry must have the capacity therefore.” Health and Sexuality Abortion in Saudi Arabia is mostly restricted.
General and Cultural Freedoms As of now, the “general practice” is for women to wear fully-covering black veils, and for men to wear long white shirts covering to the wrists, as well as a head cover.
There is a religious police force, the Mutawwa’in, that enforces these practices.
Girls are not permitted to enter into traditional Islamic education, yet there is higher female enrollment in secondary education than male enrollment.
Female literacy rates are at 50.2%, and at 71.5% for males.
The importation and use of contraceptives is banned, and is punishable by six months in jail.