In 2015, there are still places women can’t go, things they are not allowed to do and even sports they can’t play or even watch! If your first thought is that this can only happen in deeply religious areas or predominantly patriarchal societies, you’d be mistaken.
Take the November 2014 ban by the vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University choosing to ban female undergraduates from using it. According to him, “Female students would attract a lot of young men; up to four times more, if girls are allowed in.”
Yes, this still happens. Not only in religion, eduction, it even happens in sport. Japan is known for sumo wrestling; but did you know it’s a male-dominated sport? There are no professional female sumo wrestlers. The Sumo Association claim that since women have traditionally been excluded from sumo activities, it would be a dishonour to their ancestors to change it.
How about watching a game? Turns out, that is off the books in Iran. Just ask Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian law graduate was arrested with other protesters in June 2014. Their crime? They wanted to watch a men-only volleyball match in Tehran. For protesting, she was arrested and locked up for five months.
Apparently, the law to ban women from watching sporting events is to protect female spectators from the possibly inappropriate behavior of other spectators.
From the Middle East to the Vatican, where women are not allowed to vote, it feels like having ovaries is something to be ashamed of. And there’s more; here are ten places where (for now), women are still banned from.
10. Mount Ōmine
Officially known as Mount Sanjo, This UNESCO World Heritage site is situated in the Yoshino-Kumano National Park, Honshu, Japan. The mountains here house the headquarters of the Shugendō sect of Buddhism. Many years ago, pilgrims would make their way to the top while attempting three tests of courage. These tests were meant to provide a path to enlightenment.
However, pilgrims have always been restricted to males only. The tradition from the 7th century barred women, because they can be a distraction to the male pilgrims who were attempting the sacred tests of courage.
In its 1,300 year existence, there have been a few protests, but no woman has climbed the mountain.
9. Mount Athos, Greece
The Holy Mountain as it is known to the Greeks, is revered as an ideal example of the monasticism and asceticism beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This self-governed region in the mountain of Northern Greece consists of 20 monasteries housing 1,500 monks. Accessible only by ferry, these monks spend their days (which starts at sunset), praying and trying to become closer to God.
This is another UNESCO World heritage Site where women are banned from entering as it will ‘slow the monks journey toward spiritual enlightenment‘. The belief is that no female presence makes it easier to live a life of celibacy. This ban is enforced to the extent that even female domestic animals are banned.
8. Haji Ali Dargah Shrine, Mumbai, India
This 15th century tomb on the South Coast of India, is home to the body of a Muslim Saint. The beautiful structure is built 500 meters from the coast to signify where the saint’s body was found after being buried at sea. The mosque can only be visited at low tide, but this doesn’t stop over 40, 000 people from visiting weekly, pay homage and offer prayers.
However in 2012, the dargah (tomb) was declared off-limits to women, by the management of the shrine. With NO reasons given, numerous petitions have been filed to help lift this ban on Muslim women.
Shrines are common fixtures in many of the world’s religions. Often holy sanctums of ancient gods, testaments to ancient love or sanctuaries of breath-taking artifacts, shrines are popular tourist attractions. But in many religions, from Africa to Asia, being a woman automatically bars you from seeing parts of these places.
This unfair treatment is largely due to the belief that menstruation is unclean, thus rendering women unfit to visit these places of worship. In many of South-East Asia’s popular temples and shrines, women are kept away simply because of this. The Goa Gajah in Indonesia, the Sabarimala in India and the Maha Myat Muni Paya in Burma (all UNESCO World Heritage Sites), all enforce this ban.
6. Leaving the house without permission
Most of us are familiar with the various places around the world that restrict women from the same freedoms as men. But did you know this rule applied in Yemen? In Yemen a married man has the right to restrict his wife from leaving the house. There are exceptions to the rule though, she may leave for emergency purposes, such as needing to rush to her ailing parent’s side. Some married women cannot leave their homes unless accompanied by their husbands.
5. Golf Clubs in Scotland
Fancy a round of 9 or 18? Then head to the United Kingdom, where four of the ten best golf courses in the world are located. Courses like the Old Course at St Andrews and the Muirfield have hosted the game since the 1400s and the 1700s. They are also popular as two of the host courses of the British Open.
While women have golf tournaments at these clubs, they are still barred from being members of some of the older golf clubs. In September 2014, after years of pressure, the Old Course at St. Andrews voted to admit women.
However, three other courses that host the British Open, Royal Troon, Muirfield and Royal St George’s still maintain a men-only admission policy.
4. University in China
The saying goes ‘What a man can do, a woman can do better’, right? That sounds about right with women going to university at the same rate as their male counterparts and often get better grades, regardless of the majors. Yet in certain universities in China, women are discouraged from applying to study in some fields.
At the China Mining and Technology University, the mining engineering department has one clear entrance requirement: Men Only. The Beijing’s People’s Police University, limits female applicants to under 15% of the student body. Their logic? “Some jobs are really inappropriate for women.” Even the education ministry claims this ban is right as it is out of respect for women’s safety.
3. Driving in Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries left where women do not have equal rights as men. The country has a guardianship system, under which every adult female must have a male relative as her guardian. His permission must be sought before she does anything; this includes shopping, travel, any form of education, work even hospital visits. In certain situations, this guardian may be a woman’s own son.
Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are not allowed to drive themselves. There is no law that states women can’t drive but licenses are never issued to women. This hasn’t stopped all women in Saudi Arabia from driving, in 2011, several women protested this rule by driving themselves around. The punishment for this could mean jail time.
Progress is being made, as in 2015 Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah granted women the right to vote.
2. The Church
We’re all supposed to be equal in God’s eyes, right? Well, not according to the Roman Catholic Church. The Church reserves its Holy Orders i.e. the roles of the priest, deacon and bishop, for only men. The law of the Roman Catholic Church actually says “Only a baptized man …. validly receives sacred ordination.” The current Pope, Pope Francis is known to be a liberal Pope with seemingly radical views. Yet when asked about the possibility of women priests, he simply said “The church has spoken and says no … That door is closed.”
The Church of England, the overall head of the Anglican Communion, had a similar stance until November 2014. Since then, the CoE has consecrated two female bishops.
1. A Water Park in Germany
Gender shouldn’t be used to discriminate; at work, in making life choices, or when having fun.
Yet, there is a water slide that is male-only.
Germany is also home to Europe’s biggest waterslide park, the Galaxy Erding, a 25 metre dome consisting of 20 different waterslides. One of the slides, the X-treme Faser, is 67m long and riders can reach speeds of up to 72km/h. Sounds like fun, right? But it’s off-limits to women.
After six women complained of injuries to sensitive parts of their anatomies, the operators stipulated that only men can be allowed on the ride. Noting that this ban was for safety reasons, a spokesperson for the resort said they’re working on developing a bodysuit for women to prevent such mishaps in the future
In virtually all cases, the gender discrimination is unfair and uncalled for. Women everywhere are standing up for their rights. Discrimination of any kind isn’t cool, but all hope isn’t lost. With wins like the US Army lifting its ban on women on the front line to the International e-Sports Federation reversing its stance on banning female gamers from competing in France, things are changing.
Yet in 2014, Britain’s oldest working men’s club, the Anstice Memorial Institute closed down after 146 years. Simply because members refused to change the men-only rule and thus lost out on much needed lottery funding for essential repairs at the club.