Thousands of Saudis sign petition to end male guardianship of women


(Gender-based discrimination / Tradition, Culture, Religion)

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Thousands of Saudis have signed an online petition calling for the government to abolish the country’s guardianship system, which prevents women from engaging in fundamental tasks without the permission of a male relative.

“Women should be treated as a full citizen,” said activist Aziza Al-Yousef who, along with other activists, has been fighting against the guardianship system for a decade.

“This is not only a women’s issue, this is also putting pressure on normal men … this is not an issue for women only,” she told the Guardian.

Under Saudi law, women require the permission of a male guardian to travel, marry, or exit prison and it may be needed to be granted employment or access to healthcare.

A guardian is typically a woman’s father or her husband if she is married; a widow may have to seek permission from her son if she has no other men of age in her life.

But in recent years, a growing protest movement has sought to end the system. Yousef and other prominent activists started holding workshops and performing studies on the religious validity of the guardianship system five years ago. The campaign picked up steam this summer after Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a blistering report on the system.

Read the full article at The Guardian.