Last month, in a piece on stagnating reforms in Saudi Arabia, McClatchy wrote about Wajeha Al-Huwaider, one of the kingdom's leading feminist activists.
Wajeha has a new piece in The Washington Post about her latest campaign against Saudi laws that prevent women from traveling without permission from a male guardian.
"Everyone knows that women are denied rights in Saudi Arabia," she writes. "And you may think that our fate is the same one that women in some other developing countries face, only a little worse. In truth, we endure a status that most Americans can scarcely imagine.
"The guardianship rules are only part of a bigger system of subjugating women. Even with the permission of a guardian, a woman may not drive a car (except in some isolated rural areas and within the compounds that are home to many workers from Western countries). Obviously, there is nothing in the Koran that forbids driving. No, the reason we are not allowed to drive is that the power to transport ourselves would give men much less control over us.
The piece delves into the many challenges in Saudi, from fathers selling prepubescent girls to 70-year-old suitors to bans on women playing sports.
"While women are forced to be entirely dependent on men, men are allowed to follow their whims," she writes. "A woman can get a divorce, but only by going through a laborious legal procedure in religious court. However, a man can divorce his wife merely by saying 'I divorce you' three times. Although this is an ancient practice, these days the clerical authorities are debating whether the man has to say this in person, or if a text message will suffice. Already a judge in Jiddah has approved the first case of text-message divorce. The man was in Iraq to participate in jihad."