A catchy and mesmerizing music video featuring women skateboarding, riding scooters, and playing basketball wouldn’t normally go viral — but the video for “Hwages” was filmed in Saudi Arabia, and the women wear an alluring blend of traditional niqabs and vibrant neon clothing.
Since its debut in late December, the video has collected over 3 million views on Youtube and is credited with heating up the ongoing debate of women’s right in Saudi Arabia, a country where women still need permission from a male relative for many daily tasks.
The video and song was created by director and producer Majed al-Esa via 8ies production. Its title translates roughly from a Bedouin folk song to mean “concerns.”
There are no subtle feminist messages here. The video and song sharply point toward the unjust nature between men and women in Saudi culture.
The first scene opens up with a young boy happily checking his rearview mirror ready to drive three women and poking fun at the male guardianship system and current law that prevents women from driving.
“May men go extinct, they caused us mental illness!” the lyrics sing.
The video also features a paper puppet U.S. President-elect Donald Trump appearing to give a press conference over a podium that reads “House of Men.” In the video, Trump is standing in front of a crowd men with signs of Hillary Clinton’s face crossed out.
“Hwages” comes months after a petition with over 14,000 signatures was handed to the government and 2,500 direct telegrams were sent to King Salman of Saudi Arabia’s office. In July, Human Rights Watch also published a report on the negative effects of the guardianship system on women’s rights.
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Under current law, women require permission for many tasks considered human rights, making them second class citizens to men in Saudi Arabia.
Women are not allowed to travel outside the country, rent an apartment, or file a legal claim. Women who want to study outside the country need permission from their male guardian.
Some women feel humiliated by the requirement of having their sons, or other male relatives watch over them.
“My son is my guardian, believe it or not, and this is really humiliating... My own son, the one I delivered, the one I raised, he is my guardian,” a 62-year-old women told HRW.
While the video is lighthearted in tune, it sets a strong tone encouraging all to keep fighting for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
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