Kendall Langrell | Staff Writer
On December 23, 2016, a music video was uploaded to Youtube.
“Hwages” is a music video with women in Saudi Arabia playing basketball, bowling, and rapping all while wearing a niqab, a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear. The purpose of this video: female empowerment. Though there is no official law prohibiting it, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive themselves nor travel without a male accompanying them due to deeply held religious beliefs that prohibit it.
This is called the Male-Guadianship System (humanrightswatch.org), a system where a woman’s father or husband, sometimes a son or brother, is in charge of her and essentially renders them a minor unable to make decisions for themselves.
An example of this happens in the beginning of the video. Three women get into the back seat of a car while a young boy enters the driver’s seat. But it criticizes the fact that a young boy could be put in charge of these women rather than allowing them freedom to travel alone.
Translated from Arabic, these controversial lyrics say, “may men go extinct” and “they caused us psychiatric diseases.” It is no surprise the music video has gained over 7 million views and counting.
Aree Ghafouri, 57, grew up in the Middle East and now works in California as a professional interpreter. She says it does not surprise her that the video has gained viewers around the globe.
“I think the world wants to know what’s going on in Saudi Arabia,” said Ghafouri. “There’s not much people know, so I think everybody’s interested in what’s going on.”
She said the video showed a Saudi Arabian woman in a Saudi Arabian man’s world.
“The women are commendable for even making this video, to ask for these rights,” said Ghafouri. “You have to realize they’re in a country that a woman could go to jail for driving a car. Since she’s making a video that could not be agreeable with a man, they could punish her in severe physical ways.”
But not only are the women in this video fighting for their rights, the men in the video support women’s rights also. Like the thousands of men who participated in the multiple Women’s Marches around the globe, the men in this video were participating in what they believed in.
However, the women in this video could receive harsh punishments if action were to be taken against them. “The men … would not be punished as severely, but they would still be punished,” said Ghafouri.
Change that brings human rights is change worth fighting for.