In a country where bras and mesh tank tops as shirts go fairly unnoticed, it is easy to forget what goes on in other parts of the world.
This week, a Saudi woman was arrested for wearing a mini skirt and crop top in Najd, Saudi Arabia.
She was filmed walking around a historic fort in Najd, a desert village where lots of Saudi Arabia’s most conservative tribes and families live.
The official reason for her arrest was “immodest clothes” in a Kingdom where there is a strict, conservative Islamic dress code. All women in the Kingdom, including visiting foreigners, are required to wear abayas — loose, long robes. Most women also elect to wear a headscarf or veil that covers their face.
Social media is very popular in Saudi Arabia, so the video of the girl (still unnamed) went viral and a trending hashtag on Twitter had many people in the country asking for her arrest.
Some other people in the country have been pushing for a loosening of the rules over the way women dress and this video is especially telling of the progress that has yet to be made.
One of the people pushing for reforms is the 31-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has pushed for the opening of more entertainment into the country to appease the young people, who make up more than 50% of the country.
The government also just allowed girls to play sports at school and have access to physical education classes for the first time ever.
Even though those are improvements to women’s rights in the country, women are still not allowed to drive or obtain a passport and travel abroad without a male relative’s permission. Even on billboards and storefronts, women’s faces are usually blurred or pixilated even though there are massive displays picturing male royals all over the Kingdom.
This also ties back to President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia. The people defending the girl who was arrested pointed out that Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump dressed more conservative than usual on their trip but did not cover their hair or wear abayas, as the rules state.
Saudi Arabia is making some important steps forward, but the outcry over this video shows that there is a lot that still needs to change.