Female Pilot Wins Suit Over Clothing Rules in Saudi Arabia

January 23, 2002

Source: The Washington Post

On January 23, 2002, The Washington Post reported that "seven years after the Air Force's top-ranked female fighter pilot began a one-woman crusade, the Defense Department yesterday dropped its requirement that female military personnel in Saudi Arabia put on black, head-to-toe gowns when leaving their base... Lt. Col. Martha McSally had sued Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over the dress code. She contended that the policy on abayas, a form of head-to-toe gown similar to the burqa worn by many women in Afghanistan, discriminates against women and violates their religious freedom by forcing them to adopt the garb of another faith... McSally also is fighting regulations that prohibit the nearly 1,000 military women stationed in Saudi Arabia from driving, sitting in the front seat of vehicles and leaving base except in the company of men. Those restrictions apparently remain."