Petition to End Male Guardianship of Women in Saudi
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 said.
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 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. The report gave birth to a hashtag #IAmMyOwnGuardian, which spread awareness on the issue. Hala Aldosari, researcher in women’s health, who wrote the petition and worked on the HRW report, said the hashtag gained support among women of all ages and backgrounds. On the two days leading up to the petition, an estimated 2,500 women sent direct telegrams to the Saudi King’s office imploring him to end the guardianship system. The petition racked up 14,682 signatures after promoting it on Twitter, Aldosari said.
(Extracted from hwww.theguardian.com)