In the intensely patriarchal Saudi society, in which a woman made headlines last week for suing her father (for refusing to take her back into his house after she divorced her husband), it's not certain that even the Grand Mufti is powerful enough to change the status quo. But the Saudi monarchy is strongly, if quietly, supporting his action. A source close to Crown Prince Abdullah says that the de facto Saudi ruler sees the move as part of his effort to institute political and cultural reforms, and that allowing women to drive might be next on the agenda.
More than half of Kyrgyzstan's married women were snatched from the street by their husbands in a custom known as "ala kachuu," which translates roughly as "grab and run." In its most benign form, it is a kind of elopement, in which a man whisks away a willing girlfriend. But often it is something more violent.
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