Despite the repeal mandating servicewomen stationed in Saudi Arabia to wear a Muslim-style robe, called abaya, Lt. Col. Martha McSally says she will continue to fight policies that force women in the military to conform to Saudi Arabia’s codes when off-base. However, the policies only dictate what the women should wear when off-base, not on-base, and McSally should drop her lawsuit because the policies set by the U.S. military coincide with Saudi law, which applies once the women leave the base.
Saudi Arabia has an Islamic government that bases its laws on the teaching and shari’a (law) outlined in the Quran, the Muslim’s holy book. While some of the laws are unfair to women, it is not the United States where religion and the law are separated. This fundamental difference doesn’t mean it is right that women have to dress in head-to-toe robes or be escorted by a man when they leave home, but when in another country, a person should adhere to its national laws.
Understandably, McSally, the Air Force’s highest-ranking female fighter pilot, is upset by the policies set by the U.S. military. She is a U.S. citizen and wants her right to do as she pleases. But from a political and social point of view that is not fair. The U.S. base is in Saudi Arabia, meaning it is a guest of that country, and while the women can dress however they want on-base, once they leave, they are no longer on American soil. They should show good faith and respect for the country’s laws by adhering to them.
The U.S. policies that were put in place to protect U.S. servicewomen from being arrested or mistreated by unknowingly breaking Saudi laws. They are also there to show the two countries respect one another’s laws, that does not mean the United States condones the laws. McSally should understand that and retract her lawsuit.