Saudi Arabia bans the Abaya in exam halls
The Saudi Education and Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC) Bans The Abaya In Exam Halls
Saudi Arabia has banned women from wearing Abayas in examination halls. The Saudi Education and Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC), which is responsible for accrediting educational and training systems, along with the Ministry of Education, said that female students must wear school uniforms inside exam halls, which adhere to the kingdom’s public decency regulations.
Why Saudi Arabia has banned Abaya for women in exam halls
The Saudi ETEC has tweeted that female students will be “forbidden to wear the abaya at the time of the examination”. However, they need to “adhere to the attire that conforms to the regulation of preserving public decency in the examination venues”. Abaya is considered symbolic of Islamic piety, and was mandatory in Saudi until recently.
What is Abaya and what does the law say about it being compulsory?
Abaya — the loose-fitting, full-length robe worn by women in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries — is considered symbolic of Islamic piety. Until recently, it was mandatory. As per the Saudi law, which is based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Sharia law, women had to wear an Abaya when out in public spaces in the kingdom.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did away with the Abaya rule for expats and foreign tourists, it was not quite as easy for the Saudi women as the dress code was strictly enforced by police. In March 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said that women do not have to wear the abaya and hijab as long as they maintain a ‘modest’ appearance in public. However, on the ground, the dress code has been enforced by the government.
In 2018, Saudi women launched an online campaign under the Arabic hashtag “Abaya Inside Out” in protest of the kingdom’s law. They started wearing the Abaya turned inside-out to express their dissent over the Sharia law that they say violates Saudi women’s freedom to clothe.
The Saudi ETEC tweeted that female students can wear school uniforms and the clothes must adhere to public decency regulations. This was a response to a question posed by Dalia, a Saudi girl, who wanted to know if an Abaya was permissible in exam halls.
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