It’s 2019- we have smart homes, can buy land on Moon and our phones recognise our faces. Everything in the world has come a long way. So much so that we don’t even need people to drive us around and travel. But even then, the plight of mankind, especially women is not equally progressive around the world. As we all can see, it took Saudi Arabia time until 2019 to ‘allow’ women to travel independently without taking ‘permission’ from a ‘male guardian’.
A year after lifting of the ban on women driving, a second victory came for the Saudi women. The country’s authorities have announced that women can now travel abroad without the ‘approval’ from a ‘male guardian’. The Middle Eastern country published new laws recently that loosen restrictions on women by allowing all citizens, women and men alike, to apply for a passport ad travel freely. This policy shift marks a significant loosening of the kingdom’s notorious restrictions on women.
The decree, signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz comes after high-profile attempts by women to escape their guardians and flee the country. The new amendment will allow all Saudi women aged 21 and above to apply for passports and travel independently. Earlier, women had to gain approval from a male guardian in order to get a passport and those without a passport were rather given a page in their male guardians’ passports, making it impossible for them to travel without guardian accompaniment.
With the new amendment, Saudi women can also register a birth, marriage and divorce. But will it really end the long-standing guardianship policy that had controlled women’s freedom of movement since ever? Well that seems doubtful because they still cannot marry, or leave prison or a domestic violence shelter without the consent of their male guardians. And innumerable Saudi women will not be able to enjoy this freedom as they are either in prison or at home while a lot have also fled the country.