Why Women's Rights Activists Are Furious At Vogue For This Cover

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Vogue Arabia is facing backlash for featuring an image of a Saudi princess in the driving seat of a classic car on the cover of its June issue. "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is putting women in the driving seat – and so are we," the publication said, referring to the country's imminent lifting of a decades-old ban on women driving in the country.
The issue promises to celebrate Saudi Arabia's "trailblazing women", but critics claim the magazine completely glosses over a recent crackdown on women's rights in the country and a string of arrests of women's rights activists who had campaigned against the driving ban. The ban, set to be lifted on 24th June, will mean women in the country can drive for the first time and has been a long time coming.
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At least 11 women who had campaigned against it were arrested and labelled "traitors" by the government in May, and while at least four of them were released last week, the others remain in prison, according to Amnesty International.
In her cover interview with Vogue Arabia, Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah al-Saud, a daughter of the late King Abdullah, is pictured looking glamorous in leather gloves and high heels. She is quoted as saying: "In our country, there are some conservatives who fear change. For many, it’s all they have known," adding that she personally "support[s] these changes with great enthusiasm."
But many people on social media have described Vogue's cover and interview with the princess as "tone deaf", with some photoshopping images of the detained activists over the princess' face, and accusing the publication of "telling the wrong story".
Saudia Arabia made global headlines last year when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the notoriously conservative country would be lifting its decades-old driving ban. It is considered part of his reforms intended to improve the image of the country, whose guardianship system requires women to seek permission from their fathers, brothers, husbands and even sons for a wide range of life decisions, from travelling and studying abroad to getting married and even being able to leave prison.
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