With White Ribbon Day approaching, women in Saudi Arabia have begun embracing the bands in solidarity with all victims of abuse in the kingdom and around the world.
The UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, usually referred to as White Ribbon Day, is celebrated annually on Nov. 25. Though its appearance in Saudi Arabia has been quite limited, that seems to be far from the case this year.
The Arabic hashtag for #WhiteRibbon has been trending on Twitter the past couple of days in light of the abuse that takes place in Saudi Arabia — be it at home, in public, or in prison centers. The movement has been going strong ever since it was first launched by feminist and writer Sarah Al-Yahia in support of adult victims who have ended up in prison-like homes for disobeying their male guardians in the kingdom.
There have been some claims that some female students have been suspended from school for donning the white ribbons while attending their respective academic institutions. However, that hasn't stopped hundreds of women from joining the campaign online.
"Awareness is the first step"
"Wrap the white ribbon around your arm to raise awareness on the violence and abuse of women. Raising awareness is the first step that must be taken to combat the abuse women are subjected to."
Basket of peace
Blue hearts and messages of support
"We can do it"
"Freedom is a right"
"A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everyone else"
In solidarity with all victims of abuse
In Saudi Arabia, violence against women takes place behind closed doors and in public spaces, too. The lack of strict implementation of laws against abusers has made it a thousand times more challenging for a woman in the kingdom, and many parts of the Arab world, to speak up and actually see justice be served.
Instances of domestic violence have been on the rise in the kingdom, despite the laws that have been passed to help curb the problem. The violence could partly be due to the existence of a system that enables men to abuse women ... and get away with their wrongdoings.
Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system cultivates a misogynistic environment, further encouraging violence and discrimination against women. Under the system, being absent from home is considered a criminal offense even if a woman is fleeing abuse.
Though the male guardianship system has been losing many pieces that once kept it intact, it is still a major issue in Saudi Arabia, where thousands of women are abused because of it.
Earlier this year, Saudi authorities said they would be taking action against male guardians who were "misusing the male guardianship system." But in reality, nothing will do women justice until the entire system is abolished. Women are tired of being abused and won't stop until they are protected from all forms of violence.