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Saudi dentist bars women visiting without a male guardian Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Saudi dentist bars women visiting without a male guardian

Saudi Arabia's guardianship system is not applicable to women seeing a male doctor [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 January, 2018

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A Saudi dentist, who remains unidentified, urged female patients to "prevent embarrassment" by only visiting with their guardian - causing a stir online.

A sign on the door of a dentist's office in Saudi Arabia asking women to only come into the office if they have a male guardian caused a stir among Arab social media.

The doctor, who remains unidentified, urged female patients to "prevent embarrassment" by only visiting with their guardian.

The request was debated heavily on social media, with some commending his action, saying it was the "respectable" thing to do, whereas others could not shake the contradiction between the perceived steps forward being taken in women's rights in Saudi Arabia and such "drastic" forms of segregation persisting.

The doctor put up the sign despite the Saudi government itself not imposing its guardianship laws on women seeing a male doctor.

Under the country's guardianship system, a male family member - normally the father, husband or brother - must grant permission for a woman's study, travel and other activities.

In cases in which medical professionals are embarrassed about seeing a female patient, a female nurse is present on site.

Sign translation: To our female patients to prevent embarrassment: please come with your male guardian when you enter for your check-up.

Many were upset this mentality still exists:

Translation: This doctor can't be awake

But some hailed the dentist for the sign for being a "brilliant example" on how medical professionals should treat opposite gender patients:


Translation: God bless you and grant you success. You have raised our heads high and are a brilliant example for all medical professions.

Translation: what a respectful doctor

And there were those who just found the situation funny:


Saudi Arabia has in recent months been trying to increase its perception of becoming more liberal toward women's rights. In September, Riyadh decided to lift its ban on women driving - a ban that tainted the kingdom's reputation in the international arena.

However, cultural and legal restrictions against women remain, which have in some cases cost the lives of girls and women. In 2002, 15 schoolgirls died in a fire after religious police prevented male firefighters from rescuing them from the burning building.

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