Five shocking bans women face around the world

Five shocking bans on women around the worldNewsweek

The US state of Arkansas has introduced a new law that forces women to notify their sexual partner if they want to have an abortion – one of several bills that will severely restrict, or even block, women's access to terminations.

Abortion access is just one of the areas in which women face restrictions. In certain countries, women are banned from driving, voting and even attending sports matches.

Voting

In Vatican City, only Cardinals are allowed to vote for a new Pope. This means that not even all men have the right to vote – and as women can't become cardinals, they don't have the legal right to vote.

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Things are progressing in the Vatican, though. For example, Pope Francis has expressed a more accepting view of same-sex marriage.

Driving

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are banned from driving, under a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Saudi clerics claim allowing women to drive will "undermine social values".

In 2011, Saudi activist Manal Al-Sharif uploaded a video to YouTube of her driving on the road of Kobar, which was viewed thousands of times in a single day. She was imprisoned for nine days and afterwards lost custody of her son, as well as her job and her home. Sharif has since emigrated to Australia with her second husband and youngest son.

Jobs

In Russia, there are 456 occupations that are off limits to women. These include firefighting and operating metro trains. According to a 2015 World Bank report, these restrictions are from Soviet-era times and were put in place to encourage women to have children.

"Because of their maternity and childcare functions, women [in Soviet times] were considered a specific labour force barred from 'unsuitable' occupations and encouraged to concentrate in health care, education, light industry and white collar jobs," the report said.

Abortion

Women in Arkansas may be legally forced to notify their sexual partner or family members if they want to have an abortion – including their rapist. The state has passed a series of laws that severely restrict women's access to abortion, including a bill that will allow partners or family members to effectively block their termination.

The H.B. 1566 – also known as the Tissue Disposal Mandate – was passed in the state's 2017 legislation session, and will make it illegal for women to have an abortion without informing the man who impregnated her – regardless of whether the intercourse was consensual.

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Watching sports

Iranian women are forbidden from watching football matches at sports stadiums. The ban was imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and is based on the idea of segregating male and female crowds.

Another reason for the ban, according to Human Rights Watch, is because hardline clerics insist it is inappropriate for women to watch matches where men often wear shorts and use offensive language.

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