Not all countries can accept the style of women going or doing by themselves
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Not all countries can accept the style of women going or doing by themselves

by Mika Iwasaki
(Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan)

The vital capital city of Riyadh

The vital capital city of Riyadh

I like doing things by myself. I often enjoy traveling, shopping, and enjoying foods or drinks in cafes alone. The style of “Ohitorisama,” the so-called the way of life where women go places or do things by themselves seems to be acceptable to Japanese.

But not all countries in the world can accept such a lifestyle. My friend, Hiroko, felt it keenly in Saudi Arabia.

She went to Saudi Arabia two years ago and stayed for six months, because her partner was working for a company in Saudi Arabia at that time.

She was impressed with Saudi Arabia as an abundant and vital country. With her partner, Hiroko often visited many places of interest with beautiful landscapes, went to the huge shopping malls, and ate delicious foods in restaurants. She enjoyed everything, but she always had to be together with her partner.

When Hiroko’s partner went to his work, she tried to go out by herself. She left the hotel and went to the urban shopping mall by bus. Then she felt very uncomfortable in the shopping mall because of the local people’s staring. She realized that she must not go out alone.

The behavior of women in Saudi Arabia is strictly limited. So women going out alone might be frowned upon. Hiroko thought "when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

However, I understand there are multiple standards for women’s behavior around the world, and I’m sorry that I can't visit Saudi Arabia easily as I would like to do, because of my being a woman.

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Feb 16, 2014
by: Anonymous

Hi Mika,

This is a little late (4 years later lol) but I thought I could give you some added information since im a saudi woman myself living in riyadh.

I dont think I've ever been shopping with any males lol! Its okay to go about and do your thing on your own as a woman (Me & my friends/family do it all the time) I think your friend was probably getting stared at because shes foreign (& generally people here tend to stare, even at saudis, curiosity/nosiness most of the time).

I think the style of "Ohitorisama" can be achieved here but sadly not with things like travelling abroad (Unless you have permission from your guardian *sigh*) but regular day to day activity is generally fine.

I hope you can visit here one day too, but the problem wouldn't you being a woman, more of a lack of tourist visa! I hope that changes as it would be a great learning experience for locals & tourists alike.

Oct 11, 2010
Saudi women cannot go out by themselves
by: Gary Wolff

You make some good points, Mika.

It's really sad that these restrictions on women exist in Saudi Arabia, but that's their culture, so who are we to judge? :-)

And I don't think it's anything to be overly concerned about with your being an "ohitorisama." I often eat by myself too, and enjoy the peace & quiet, without feeling obligated to make interesting conversation. :-)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts...


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