Senator Charles Grassley was a lead sponsor of an amendment that seeks to end what Grassley says is discrimination against U-S servicewomen in Saudi Arabia. The military has “encouraged” American servicewomen to wear head-to-toe covering, called an abaya in Saudi Arabia, when venturing off military bases. Grassley says that’s tantamount to an order, and it’s wrong.Grassley says U-S servicewomen are ambassadors for American values, and Americans don’t have a value that women ought to hide their faces and bodies in public. Grassley says other American women who’re working for the U-S government in Saudi Arabia aren’t forced to wear the abaya.The State Department actually has a policy which explicitly forbids women employees in Saudi Arabia from wearing the abaya. The Senate last night voted 93-to-zero to prohibit the Defense Department from requiring servicewomen to wear the abaya in Saudi Arabia, and to forbid the agency from using tax dollars to buy the garments. Grassley says he wanted to send a clear signal to the Defense Department about the issue.The abaya is similar to the burqa women in Afghanistan were forced to wear by the Taliban.
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