Saudi Arabia reportedly plans to end legal restrictions this year prohibiting women from traveling outside the country without a male guardian’s permission.
Saudi authorities appointed a government committee this year to reconsider guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia pertaining to women and men over the age of 18 years old, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The planned change in guardianship laws comes after several major stories of women escaping male guardianship in Saudi Arabia struck international attention.
Current guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia bar all women and men under the age of 21 from free international travel without the permission of a guardian.
The new plan would leave in place other restrictions on women’s autonomy in Saudi Arabia such as the mandate that a male give permission for women to marry or be released from prison, people familiar with the matter said according to WSJ. (RELATED: Saudi Teen Defector Uses Social Media To Avoid Being Deported Back To Her Family)
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A Saudi government adviser not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said the change in policy came “from the top.”
“There is no question that the leadership, the government and the people want to see this system changed,”a Saudi royal family member told WSJ.
“The current discussion is about how to make this happen as soon as possible without causing a stir,” they continued.
The Absher app, featured in the Google and Apple app stores, digitized the cultural suppression of women, providing efficient means to track and locate women trying to exit Saudi borders illegally.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 33, has made a substantial effort to modernize Saudi Arabia, including efforts to liberate and empower women. He lifted a nationwide ban on women driving automobiles in June 2018.
Salman has not been as committed to the idea of lifting guardianship laws, however, and said it was up to Islamic scholars to decide on the issue, according to WSJ.
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