Women suffer incomprehensible abuses every day in Saudi Arabia, many of them on the grounds of "modesty". Advancing the rights of women has been shown across the world to be crucial, not just for them but for the broader progress of society, economically and socially. Yet while I wish it could, change isn’t going to happen overnight in Saudi Arabia, probably not by the time of this Olympic Games or even the next.
And if anything, blocking Saudi Arabia from the Olympics will only make change less likely, by encouraging a kneejerk response from the conservative elements and resulting in an introverted society that operates away from the world’s gaze. It’s far more important to make Saudi men and women aware that, to begin with at least, there is a middle ground, whether in terms of women’s only sections or other short-term fixes.
It’s easy to fear that things will never change for Saudi women. But a century ago British women didn’t have the vote, and until 1870, married women couldn’t own property. They too were things that at one time seemed impossible to change.Memo to Jen: you can't "change" sharia, sweetie.