Saudi Women Move to Dump Male Guardians

More than 14K women have signed petition so far
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2016 8:38 AM CDT
Saudi Women Move to Dump Male Guardians
Saudi women don't want to be treated like "second-class citizens" anymore.   (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

In Saudi Arabia, women are hamstrung from doing certain tasks many of us take for granted—including marrying and vacationing abroad—without permission from their male guardians. Now, more than 14,000 Saudi women are trying to change that with a petition to the government that they hope will put an end to the conservative Islamic kingdom's guardianship system, the BBC reports. Women currently need an OK from a husband, father, brother, son, or other male family member to do not only the previously listed activities, but also more routine things such as renting an apartment, getting a passport, accessing health care—sometimes even taking a class or getting a job. "Women should be treated as [full citizens]," activist Aziza Al-Yousef, who's been in the equal-rights fight for 10 years, tells the Guardian.

The movement to dump guardianship picked up steam in July after a Human Rights Watch report came out on the system and the hashtag #IAmMyOwnGuardian started proliferating on social media. Not all women are against guardianship, with a female columnist for the Arab News saying that while reform to the system is needed, how well the system works depends on each family's dynamic, and that women who live under such systems aren't necessarily "brainwashed." Still, an HRW researcher calls the drive to nix guardianship "incredible and unprecedented." "[The women have] made undeniably clear they won't stand to be treated as second-class citizens any longer," she tells the BBC. (An unveiled anchorwoman caused a hubbub.)

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