Women in Saudi Arabia Can Now Travel Without Permission of a Male Guardian

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Photo of Women in Saudi Arabia Can Now Travel Without Permission of a Male Guardian by Priya Pareek

Doing away with a heavily criticised male guardianship system, Saudi Arabia has now allowed adult women to travel without permission.

The official gazette published a series of royal decrees on August 2, announcing that a passport should be granted to any citizen who submits an application for it. The decision comes after several cases of high profile women trying to escape their guardians.

The new reform will end the system that treated adult women as legal minors and hence their male guardians were allowed to exercise arbitrary authority over them.

Besides, the amendments also give Saudi women the right to register child birth, marriage or divorce and makes them eligible as a guardian to minor children.

Saudi Arabia has long been facing heightened international scrutiny over its human rights record. Rights groups often point out that women in Saudi were treated as second-class citizens who need permission of a male guardian for important decisions regardless of their age.

Several young women sought asylum abroad claiming gender-based repression in the country which increased pressure on Saudi over the male guardian system.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, had lifted a driving ban for women and had eased other social restrictions in order to open its economy last year.

While travel restriction has been lifted for women in Saudi, they still need permission from a male relative to marry or live on their own. Still a long way to go.

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