Saudi Arabia has been rightfully criticized for the manner in which their women are treated. For the longest time, women were held in the same regard as minors. They actually needed the permission of a male guardian in order to travel. In some cases the guardian would be a father, in others a husband, and in some cases even a son.
A new law has been passed that loosens those restrictions on women. The law allows all citizens to apply for a passport and travel freely, which effectively puts an end to the policy that limited women’s freedom of movement. The laws are set to go into effect by the end of the month.
Many Saudis took to Twitter to celebrate the change. They believe that the 33-year old Prince was the driving force behind the monumental decision. Some conservatives however, were known to continue supporting the guardianship laws. Among other changes listed in the laws were allowing women to register marriages, divorces, and births. They will also now be able to access official family documents.
Interestingly, though women give birth to children, they were previously unable to to be legal guardians of their children. The new laws completely shifted this system. This is a tremendous step in the right direction for the expansion of Saudi women’s rights.
Lynn Malouf, Mideast’s research director at Amnesty stated that “these reforms are really a testament to the work of the brave activism and the suffering and the ordeals.”
Despite this however, there are still many rules in place that hinder the rights of women. Women must still have a consenting male to leave prison and marry. Additionally, though they can now be legal guardians, they cannot legally provide their children with consent to marry and cannot pass down citizenship. These laws are a monumental step for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia, however there is still much work to be done.