Women in Saudi Arabia will no longer need the permission of a male guardian to travel, according to local news reports. The policy, if confirmed, would mark a key step in dismantling controls that have made women second-class citizens in their own country.
Saudi women over the age of 21 will be able to apply for a passport and travel outside the country, without approval, Okaz newspaper reported on Thursday. The change would put them on an equal footing with men. They would also reportedly be able to register births and deaths, a right previously restricted to men.
The paper did not say where it got the information, but the country’s official gazette tweeted that amendments to travel rules, labour law and civil status law would be included in its next edition, Bloomberg reported.
The reported move comes at a time of increased international scrutiny of women’s status in Saudi Arabia. In recent months several young women have fled the country and made public pleas for help in seeking asylum from their family and the government.
Last year authorities arrested many of the country’s most prominent female campaigners in a sweeping crackdown on activists.
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SOURCE: The Guardian, Emma Graham-Harrison