Guardian System Has Saudi Women 'Perpetual Minors'

Doing almost anything requires male consent in kingdom, report finds
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2008 3:55 PM CDT
An unidentified Saudi is seen in this Oct. 23, 2007, file photo taken in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.    (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
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(Newser) – Women in Saudi Arabia need to gain a male guardian’s consent to do almost anything, living as “perpetual minors,” the Telegraph reports. Research by Human Rights Watch found that male permission is needed to go to a doctor, travel, and even get dressed. In addition, strict segregation denies women access to public libraries and educational institutions.

Women are also not able to function as adults for the sake of their children, forbidden to open a bank account or enroll them in school. The Saudi government says it will soon lift some restrictions, but HRW found even when bans have been rescinded, as with unaccompanied airline travel, social mores keep the consent system in place de facto.