JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia allowed women to contest elections but the candidates participating in December 12 polls won’t be able to address prospective voters directly, meet any male voters in public and even publish their photos, Arab News reported.
The Saudi election commission has warned all 366 registered candidates for upcoming municipal elections in the Kingdom that they must not publish their photographs or address their voters directly.
Officials have asked the women electioneers to appoint agents to do this on their behalf besides directing womenfolk to create separate sections for men and women at their campaign headquarters.
Any violation of this women-centric code of coduct will be punished with a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyal.
Many female candidates questioned the decision which also requires them to cover any contractual costs with specialised companies to oversee their electoral campaign.
Candidate Nassema Al-Sada said the while talking to Arab News asked how there can be any justice in the elections if the female candidate, like their male counterparts, cannot directly meet with voters to discuss their campaign.
She was of the view that the ban kills the very purpose of involvement of women in the electoral process, which is ‘integration’ not ‘isolation’.
According to another candidate Mona Al-Hussein, the decision is a blow to the experience of women’s participation in the elections and must be reconsidered.
Nawal Al-Ramadan, a nurse, maintained that the ban is an obstacle to women’s involvement in the municipal elections and must be overturned.
Women were allowed to register to vote in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time in August. The December 12 elections will appoint new members to the municipal councils in Saudi Arabia.
In the councils themselves, half of the members will be elected while the other half will be officials selected by King Salman, ensuring power remains concentrated within the royal family.