07 October 2016

Saudi male-guardianship laws treat women as second-class citizens

The male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia is not just law: it is a set of bylaws and state-sanctioned discriminatory policies and practices that restrict a woman’s ability to have a wide range of choices unless permitted by her male guardian – typically a father, husband, brother or even a son.

In practice, it means women are unrecognised by the state as full legal adults.

This year, female activists joined forces to promote abolishing the system through a petition and received massive online support.

It seemed that, contrary to earlier campaigns for women for municipal participation or driving, this campaign had a life of its own. Women activists submitted a letter to the Royal Advisory Council in 2014 and though women members of the council expressed support no significant change ensued.

This time I drafted the petition to the king around Saudi’s national transformation plan and urged him to consider the significant impact of the guardianship system on the risk to women of poverty, exploitation and domestic violence. [Guardian Cif] Read more