This section of the literature review analyses the legal and social position of women in Saudi Arabia to explore how the humanitarian issue of gender inequality affects working women in the context of the religious and social expectations of women in the Saudi Arabian culture. It thus falls under the topic areas of legal systems and of social concepts of gender. This section of the work will look to analyse the nature of the legal system in Saudi Arabia and the social concepts of gender, and how they influence the ability of women to participate in Saudi society and thus in the Saudi workforce. The core argument in this area is that Saudi Arabia has legal and social institutions, which act to limit the ability of women to participate in the Saudi economy and the workforce, and this then hinders the development of equal opportunities. However, the section also argues and documents the recent positive changes in this area and how they can help to improve the ability of women to gain equal opportunities.
The academic literature around the legal and social position of women in Saudi Arabia is characterised by attempts to understand the legal framework in the country. According to Erdem and Tuncalp (1997, p. 47), the underlying legal framework in Saudi Arabia "is like the sand dunes of the desert.' constantly changing and always on the move". This can make it difficult to determine a specific and well-defined legal position for women, with the law in Saudi Arabia being largely influenced by the judgements and interpretations of individual clerics and other members of the judiciary. However, the academic literature does display a consistent theme of repression of women in the country in previous years. These include analyses of the publication of reports by international bodies such as Amnesty International, which tended to regularly denounce the country for its treatment of women and call for Saudi Arabia to respect and ratify the various international conventions in support of women's rights (Ahmad, 2000). More recently, legal academic attention has focused on specific laws, which deprive women of rights. These include the illegal mingling law, which Harvard Law Review (2008, p. 2254) analyses as facilitating crimes such as rape and criminalising victims, although the study does note that the country is looking to address these issues, particularly when they are widely reported, due to pressure from the international community.
Abortion and Pregnancy in Saudi Arabia - Riyadh Dammam and Jeddah