The New York Times put out a call on Twitter for Saudi women to talk about their lives. They got a huge response.

Most of the responses focused on frustration over guardianship rules that force women to get permission from a male relative — a husband, father, brother or even son — to do things like attend college, travel abroad, marry the partner of their choice or seek medical attention. Some women talked about the pride they had in their culture and expressed great distrust of outsiders. But many of them shared a deep desire for change and echoed Juju19’s hopelessness.

A Life Restricted

“I got into an accident once in a taxi, and the ambulance refused to take me to the hospital until my male guardian arrived. I had lost a lot of blood. If he didn’t arrive that minute, I would’ve been dead by now.” — RULAA, 19


“Every time I want to travel, I have to tell my teenage son to allow me.”

— SARAH, 42

a doctor in Riyadh

“My sister went to a bookstore without taking permission from her husband, and when she returned, he beat her up without restraint.”


“He won’t allow me to work, even though I need the money. He also doesn’t provide all my needs. I can’t recall the last time he cared about what I needed or wanted. He is married to four women and completely preoccupied with them, and he doesn’t allow me to travel with my mother. I suffer a lot, even in my social life. He controls it completely and doesn’t allow me to have friends over or go to them. He forces me to live according to his beliefs and his religion. I can’t show my true self. I live in a lie just so that I wouldn’t end up getting killed.” — DINA, 21


“I’ve had to give up on a number of educational opportunities because he (my guardian) didn’t think a doctor needed a cultural exchange program or a symposium he didn’t understand. I’ve been trying to have him let me marry the man I love for the past two years.

“I’m in charge of people’s lives every day, but I can’t have my own life the way I want.” — A. M., 30

a doctor in Jidda

There are some who say it’s all fine, women are protected, it’s lovely.

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