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A comparison of the treatment of women in Britain and Saudi Arabia (2013)

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A comparison of the treatment of women in Britain and Saudi Arabia (2013)
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  Abigail Joseph A comparison of the treatment of women in Britain and Saudi Arabia Women have always faced considerable discrimination in history. For many years they have had opportunities withheld from them and found it rather difficult at times to be seen as a gender equal to men. Women in Britain have generally advanced from being second class citizens who could not vote or were permitted to remain at home to becoming more  prominent in politics, given all basic human rights and now, there are even grammar schools specified for girls only. In Saudi rabia, the treatment of women is very much under scrutiny as they are educated mainly up to a secondary level, are denied many basic human rights and rarely able to ma!e their voices heard in the political world. "here is very much a wide disparity between how women are treated in these two countries and this needs to be further understood.In terms of education, Saudi rabia does offer women the chance to learn and improve themselves as people as well as their future quality of life. #any women in Saudi rabia are educated up to secondary level as in Britain with many grammar schools accommodating for girls only e.g. Southend $igh School for %irls but also private schools such as &ity of 'ondon for %irls. (ducation is free in Saudi rabia and it is not an uncommon thing for girls to be educated up to even university level now. In Britain, many women also go on to higher education with most universities having appro)imately *+ of its students being female. "he -niversity of )ford had several women/s only colleges with the most recent one being St. $ilda/s which became co0educational in 1++2. In fact, the -niversity of &ambridge still retains women/s only colleges including 3ewnham &ollege and 'ucy &avendish &ollege. Saudi rabia also prides itself on having women/s only institutions such as (ffat -niversity and 4rincess 3oura -niversity. "his is a criterion in which Saudi rabia treats its women equally to that of Britain. From these establishments it is clear that, with regards to the education of women, Saudi rabia is very much on par with Britain as education is readily available to women with some establishments being specifically for the gender group only, ensuring that they receive the education they are entitled to.n the other hand, leisure opportunities available to women in Britain are very much different to those present in Saudi rabia. In Britain, women are very much independent and, in fact, conditioned and geared to be. Women in Britain are allowed to travel, whether domestically or internationally, unaccompanied by a man, they can drive5 they can wear what they please and are entitled to complete freedom in many aspects. "his is the complete antithesis of what Sharia law 6traditional Saudi rabian law7 permits its women to do. Women must be accompanied by either their husbands or a male relative and are not allowed to drive. "hey cannot even choose what they wear as  Purdah,  a Sharia law, demands that their bodies must be concealed unless they are married so they are made to wear a hijab  6a head covering7, an abaya 6a full length blac! cloa!7 and a niqab  6a face veil7. -nmarried women in Saudi rabia cannot fraternise with men or else they are sub8ected to accusation of  prostitution or namus 6dishonouring their family7 which, in e)treme cases, is resolved by murdering the woman, in instances commonly referred to as 9honour !illings/. Women in Britain pride themselves on having made much progress in what they can do since the oppressed days of (mmeline 4an!hurst but the women in Saudi rabia are treated,  Abigail Joseph essentially, as second class citizens, not even as people who want to retain at least some semblance of control over their lives. "hey are sub8ected to Sharia law and what it deems as  best for its women. Saudi rabian women are very much limited although per contra, they aregradually being permitted to do more as recently it was reported that the country had lifted its ban on women using bicycles and motorbi!es as well as sports clubs for women being  planned to be constructed. verall it can be said that women in Britain are generally  permitted to en8oy far more leisure opportunities than their Saudi rabian counterparts.gain, the voice that women have in politics is very much a point of differentiation for the treatment of women by the two countries. Britain has had many women in its political arena, most notably #argaret "hatcher having been 4rime #inister in the past, "heresa #ay as the &onservative $ome Secretary and &aroline 'ucas as the leader of the %reen 4arty. "here are :;< women #4s in 4arliament out of the <*+ previously elected. $owever, only ; out of the 1=0strong cabinet in Britain are women with "heresa #ay, &aroline Spelman, &heryl %illan and 'ady Warsi. In addition, fewer than 1+ of current 4rime #inister &ameron/s ministers are women. "his, shoc!ingly, is an improvement to %ordon Brown/s cabinet which, in 1++>, had only ; women. lthough women feature more in British politics than before, they are stillin the minority and this is surprising in a country that prides itself on having made much  progress in equal opportunities given to its citizens regardless of their gender. It would be specious to speculate that women rarely feature or have no presence in Saudi rabian politicsas boundaries have been bro!en and women are gradually being introduced into their country/s political world. ?ing bdullah has been diversifying the Shura &ouncil5 the closest Saudi rabia comes to a 4arliament, by swearing several women in to the council who will ma!e up 1+ of the politicians. "hese alterations will doubtlessly be seen as vicissitudes to the traditionalists of Saudi rabia but women are being given more opportunities now than ever before to allow their voices to be heard. s of yet this is the only ma8or improvement which has been made but it is a start, a motion in the right direction.In summation, it cannot be disputed that women are treated far better in Britain than in Saudi rabia in their education, leisure and politics. Saudi rabia cannot be ruled out though and it must be understood that after many years of abiding by oppressive Sharia law, changes to what women can do will be as far as $erculean to bring about. @espite this, slow but steady  progress has  been made and perhaps in *+ to :++ years/ time, women will be seen and treatedas an important part of Saudi rabian society but, as of now, the country is not there yet.
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