Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world that forbids women to drive, and which was ranked second to last in a Thomson Reuters global survey of women’s rights, is adding one more injustice to their repertoire: when a woman enters or leaves the country her “male guardian” is alerted through a text. This system has been in place for two years, but was optional until now.
Manal al-Sherif, who orchestrated Saudi women to defy the driving ban last year, was among the first to report the new phenomena, getting the world of Twitter heated about the new regulation. Indeed, many in her community have been tweeting their disdain:
“Why don’t you cuff your women with tracking ankle bracelets too?” wrote Israa.
“Why don’t we just install a microchip into our women to track them around?” scoffed another.
Columnist Badriya al-Bishr has criticized the new practice as well. “The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” and this contributes to the “state of slavery under which women are held,” in Saudi Arabia.
Women also are denied international travel unless a “yellow sheet” is filled out by her male guardian at the airport or at the border. As with minors, women are under the care and control of such guardians.
Liberal activist Suad Shemmari lamented the entire set up: “Saudi women are treated as minors throughout their lives even if they hold high positions. There can never be reform in the kingdom without changing the status of women and treating them” as equals.
Because of such sharia laws as that women should be covered in veils and cloaks, and other such restrictions, female unemployment is at around 30 percent.
Saudi female lawyers who have a degree and three years experience in a law office have, however, gained the right to plead in court, though this has not actually been implemented.