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Rebel women fight back by wearing western clothing in Saudi Arabia

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The rebel women who are fighting back by wearing western clothing

A small number of women in Saudi Arabia are now seeking to openly wear more liberal clothing (Picture: Getty/AP)

A handful of rebel women in the Saudi Arabia have made the momentous decision to shun the obligatory abaya in a push for more social liberties.

The billowy over-garment, usually all-black, is customary public wear for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom, where it is widely seen as a symbol of piety.

However, a number of brave women have made the momentous change, saying: No-one should force me to wear something I dont want.

The women face attack by religious fundamentalists but there are signs that society is very slowly changing.

Saudi human resources professional Mashael al-Jaloud, 33, walks in western clothes past Saudis wearing traditional Islamic garment, at a commercial area in the Saudi capital Riyadh on September 3, 2019. - With her high heels clacking on marble tiles, a defiant Saudi woman turned heads and drew gasps as she strutted down a Riyadh mall -- without a body-shrouding abaya. The billowy robe, commonly all-black, is an over-garment that is customary in public for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom, where it is widely seen as a symbol of piety. Last year, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hinted the dress code may be relaxed amid his sweeping liberalisation drive, saying the robe was not mandatory in Islam. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi human resources professional Mashael al-Jaloud, 33, walks openly in western clothes (Picture: AFP)

Saudi human resources professional Mashael al-Jaloud, 33, walks in western clothes past women wearing niqab, an Islamic dress-code for women, at a commercial area in the Saudi capital Riyadh on September 3, 2019. - With her high heels clacking on marble tiles, a defiant Saudi woman turned heads and drew gasps as she strutted down a Riyadh mall -- without a body-shrouding abaya. The billowy robe, commonly all-black, is an over-garment that is customary in public for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom, where it is widely seen as a symbol of piety. Last year, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hinted the dress code may be relaxed amid his sweeping liberalisation drive, saying the robe was not mandatory in Islam. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Mashael al-Jaloud, 33, walks without the body-shrouding abaya (Picture: AFP)

Last year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hinted during an interview with CBS that the dress code may be relaxed, saying the robe was not mandatory in Islam.

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No formal edict followed but some people are now openly leaving their robes at home or swapping the black for a more colourful garment.

Mashael al-Jaloud has stopped wearing the robe altogether and was recently pictured openly walking through a central Riyadh mall in high heels, a burnt orange top and baggy trousers.

Other shopping centres have banned her though, saying they do not permit entry to violators of public morals.

In July, she posted a video on Twitter about the ban and a Saudi royal condemned her calling her a publicity seeker who needed to be punished for the provocative act.

Speaking about ditching her body-covering material, Mashael, 33, said: There are no clear laws, no protection. I might be at risk, might be subjected to assault from religious fanatics because I am without an abaya.

But she added the robe is not about religion because if it was, Saudi women wouldnt take them off when they go outside the kingdom.

Saudi human resources professional Mashael al-Jaloud, 33, checks her mobile while wearing western clothes at a commercial area in the Saudi capital Riyadh on September 3, 2019. - With her high heels clacking on marble tiles, a defiant Saudi woman turned heads and drew gasps as she strutted down a Riyadh mall -- without a body-shrouding abaya. The billowy robe, commonly all-black, is an over-garment that is customary in public for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom, where it is widely seen as a symbol of piety. Last year, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hinted the dress code may be relaxed amid his sweeping liberalisation drive, saying the robe was not mandatory in Islam. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Mashael al-Jaloud still has to cover up inside her office but is wearing more liberal clothing in public (Picture: AFP)

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Mashael works as a HR specialist and is still forced to wear an abaya or headscarf to work or risk losing her job.

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But her stance in private has seen others dare to join her, including Manahel al-Otaibi, a 25-year-old activist.

Manahel said: For four months I have been living in Riyadh without an abaya.

I just want to live the way I want, freely and without restrictions. No one should force me to wear something I dont want.

Saudi Manahel al-Otaibi, a 25-year-old activist, walks in western clothes in the Saudi capital Riyadh's al Tahliya street on September 2, 2019. - With her high heels clacking on marble tiles, a defiant Saudi woman turned heads and drew gasps as she strutted down a Riyadh mall -- without a body-shrouding abaya. The billowy robe, commonly all-black, is an over-garment that is customary in public for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom, where it is widely seen as a symbol of piety. Last year, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hinted the dress code may be relaxed amid his sweeping liberalisation drive, saying the robe was not mandatory in Islam. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Manahel al-Otaibi, a 25-year-old activist, ditched her abaya four months ago (Picture: AFP)

FILE - In this June 24, 2019 file photo, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Al Salam Palace in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. The renewed push to publicly list its most valuable entity, Aramco, is part of a high-stakes plan by the Saudi crown prince to prepare the country for a future less dependent on oil for survival. Saudi Arabia has not said which international exchange it will list Aramco on. (AP Photo/Jacquely<a href=https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/13/rebel-women-fight-back-wearing-western-clothing-saudi-arabia-10734434/>Read More – Source</a></p>
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