Segregation in shopping areas of Saudi Arabia in caricature
Segregation in shopping areas of Saudi Arabia, is it a fair policy?
by Iqbal Tamimi
The segregation in almost every field in the Saudi society, and the problems people face as a consequence, have been expressed through caricatures by Saudi cartoonists such as Abdesalam El-hlayyel.
The markets, shopping areas and restaurants are segregated areas in Saudi Arabia and malls do not allow a single man to enter a shopping area on his own just in case he might flirt with women who are doing their shopping. For this reason single men are supposed to accompany their mothers or sisters if they want to buy something or just do some window shopping.
In this caricature the couple who seem not to enjoy shopping together are reflecting the views of a considerable percentage of Saudis. The caricature entitles ‘A session of frankness’, the couple seem to confess to each other why they request the company of each other when they plan shopping, the joy of each other’s company is not the reason.
Husband: The only reason I took you with me ‘shopping’ is because wherever I want to enter a shopping complex, I was told it’s only for families (every man should be accompanied by his wife or sister or mother to prove that he is not going to the malls to flirt with other women).
Wife: And I only took you shopping with me because every time I wanted to enter a restaurant to eat something, I was told I had to have my guardian accompanying me.
Men are treated in Saudi Arabia as if they are not to be trusted, they do not behave themselves in public places unless they are controlled either by the religious authorities, or by their wives. While women are treated as minors that they can’t enjoy simple things like going to eat out at a restaurant without being accompanied by a male guardian.
The whole system of segregation has created a relationship of distrust between both genders; feelings that women are no doubt will be abused by men wherever they go. All these hints are exaggerating the amount of harm men can inflect on women. The males are always treated as guilty predators, no doubt this attitude is unfair, humiliating and insulting for the men who think of themselves as civilized gentlemen who behave in their best manners and do not need the authorities to hold a stick for them to make sure that they behave well.
The segregation system is short is about men claiming to protect women from ‘other men’. A system criminalising men and painting them with the same brush as creatures whose main goal in life is to target women for sexual exploitation.