So, being a woman in Oman. In Oman, I can drive. However, if my husband or family did not wish me to drive, they could prevent me from getting my Omani national ID card, or I could sneak out of the house to apply for it, and, a brother or relative could probably go to the police to pick it up (for me) if they heard I had done so (someone might phone them, despite that being illegal in Oman). So in that case, as an Omani woman, I'd be prevented from travelling, free movement, and driving, since without a national ID card, I can't get a passport either. As I am still not an Omani citizen, and my husband is the one pestering me to get my lisence, this is not an issue for me, but it is for other Omani women, a mystery number the government seems to care nothing about. As I still don't drive... my fault, I face other issues, relatable to women in this situation.
In Oman, technically gender segregation doesn't exist. Although, it does. My husband's family is very hypocritical about gender segregation. It is claimed to come from Islamic intent, although if that is truth, then, well, I wouldn't feel so angry when I am neglected from social situations. The village has a company where many of the wives have equal ownership to men in the company. However, we are expected to have our husbands or brothers speak our business ideas on our behalfs, and the men in the company meet and make all final decisions without our presence or vote. As many more of the women worked in private sector or had formal education than the men, this seems loony bin to me, but whatever... It isn't "against the law" but it simply "isn't done". While it is perfectly fine for me to meet with men at my work, or in Oman's public sector, doing so "in the family" is so not. Don't get it AT ALL.
At work, my male co-workers occasionally say inapproproate things. A joke here, something there. Nothing against me at all, but definately not positive towards women in general. I was told, because I took a month and a half off to have a baby (even though I am the ONLY one working on the project AT ALL out of a group of FIVE male collegues) that I was becomming "an Omani woman" arguing, and "trying to justify" why I didn't get work done. Sorry, my usual caffinate myself and never sleep work routine was called off my doctors who told me to stop having heart attacks while pregnant, y'all. During that month and a half, I still replied to all emails, made reports, corrected spelling, and booked people hotel arrangements even though that isn't even in my job description---up until the day I went to the hospital. I was like, should I text my boss back while I am having contractions and the nurse is fighting me for my phone?---nah. I returned as soon as I could walk without bleeding and I found childcare for a super newborn. It was really an offensive experience for me, that I haven't forgotten. Since not one of them have produced ANY work at all since making those comments, I feel quite offended, not for me, but for Omani women.
While there are no mutawaa (religious police here) sometimes I see women giving other women looks of disgust (judging their dress) instead of, like, befriending them, complimenting them on more culturally or Islamic suited choices... This comes from what I don't know in the culture. You can say Islam, but not really. Islam isn't really a judge-other-people kind of religion unless it comes down to to worhsipping more than one God/Allah. Even for the strictest of interpretations.
As I don't drive I can almost quote the Saudi woman's article comepletely: Perhaps it was the countless men who assumed that since I was out in public on my own I clearly was asking to be sexually harassed. Or the young men
In Canada I can wear abaya and that alone is enough to command respect of a sexual nature for men to leave me be, whereas here in Oman, obviously, something is wrong with the Muslim men if it isn't enough for them, but it is for non-Muslim men.
At my work, when they found out I was married to an Omani, the personnal affairs office asked me to get a "permission slip" from my husband to allow me to work the hours in my work contract. Apparently husband's sue the government sometimes so their Omani wife doesn't have to fulfill her own work contract? Like she was, I dunno, too dumb to know what her job is from the start and signs stuff without understanding? My Omani husband found this offensive more than I did...
While women are allowed to ask for things in their marriage contract, like financial provision after other-party mitagated conditioned divorce, or child custody, or rights a woman wants to maintain for herself that Islamically a man has to agree to, women are discrouaged by the man who wants to marry them, and their male guardians, from doing so, even this protects them, and in Islam, is what we are supposed to do. Asking for, like, 10, 000 OMR maher, seems pointless to me, if one is not going to work out future child custody issues, like if a man might marry another wife, what are the woman's options etc.... I, unlike many many women who complain on the internet (including the Saudi one) know that in Islam, a Muslim man IS allowed to marry another wife and even if you put that he can't in a marriage contract, he can, and that contract part is void in Shariah law. Like if a woman agrees in her contract that she won't go to a Mosque, but later she wants to... Certain rights can't be made legally null despite being a marriage contract. However, protections and incentives can be built in, like alimony to be paid (and right to divorce without return of maher) if a man marries again BEFORE he delivers any maher payment to a future bride, and custody rights.
However, in Oman, much of a woman's marriage is done without her. And can be done, without her knowledge if she is a virgin. Which, to me, is wrong on so many levels... Same with divorce. I don't know any women personally this happened to, however, but it happens it seems, according to other Omani women.
Women's visas are harder to get then men's. That is, assuming, people were abusing the system and bringing women to, like, work in a salon, or as a waitress, then they ended up working as dancers/prostitutes/massage artists, or something, but it really doesn't solve this problem the way, say, good detective/police work does, and set conditions for deportation, with due punishment for sponsors that abuse the category of visa they applied for. But whatever, I don't work for the Ministry of Manpower, so what can I say? From the my experience, the police in charge of enforcing Sponsor-and Workier Abuse of Visa Category are pretty corrupt http://howtolivelikeanomaniprincess.blogspot.com/2014/05/being-asked-for-my-id-by-corruptcreepy.html. They will take bribes (like sexual favours) to not arrest the prostitutes, so really, who are we fooling that this new law, did anything towards reducing this number? Do men, who get caught with prostitutes---get deported? Or at least, arrested and forced to undergo medical testing for dicesases? I rather doubt that... And punishing the poor Moroccan girl who was forced to become a dancer/prostitute by an evil sponsor whom she paid a large ammount of money to, to come to Oman in the first place as a waitress who needs to support, like, her blind widowed mother and ten brothers and sisters back in Marrakesh or Casablanca, with jail, fines, and deporatation.... seems wrong somehow. Many of these sponsors are supported by wasta people (I know because my husband tried to fight one of them and the best he could do in the end was buy the poor girl's freedom and return her to her family). Accountability isn't just for the lower castes of society, now it is?
I also, as a woman, am offended, when an old Omani woman has waited years now, for her free government land, and a girl walks in full makeup, and fancy abaya, to the housing Minsitry, and walks out with HER free government land the same day. That's sickening, and so obvious.
For the women out there living in Oman, are there other areas of life in Oman, that I neglected to mention, that make you feel diminished or suppressed as a person in this society?