Taking a stand

Saudi women are protesting strict dress codes by wearing their abayas inside-out

Saudi women cross a street in Hofuf city, 250 kms east of the Saudi capital Riyadh. (HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Women in Saudi Arabia are protesting the country’s restrictive dress codes by wearing their abayas, or long-sleeved cloaks, inside out.

According to the Agence France-Presse, Saudi women have been taking to social media with the hashtag “inside-out abaya” to flaunt their twist on the traditional garment, which they are required to wear by law.

The country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been trying to soften the image of the notoriously hardline kingdom (an effort that has been compromised by his reported involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi). Under the crown prince’s direction, Saudi Arabia recently lifted long-standing restrictions on women driving, and started allowing women into sports stadiums.

He also said during a March interview with CBS that while Sharia law mandates “that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men,” the rules do not demand that “respectful” garments must take the form of a black abaya.

“[It] is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire to wear,” he said.

However, no formal edict has been issued to lift the abaya requirement and women’s rights activists continue to be subjected to arrest, in what Amnesty International has deemed an “unrelenting crackdown.”

Read the full story at the AFP.

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