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Saudi Women Deliver Petition to End Male Guardianship Laws

The Clarion Project

(Photo: © Reuters)

A petition demanding the end of male guardianship in Saudi Arabiawas delivered to the Kingdom’s Shura Council (a formal advisory body). The petition also calls for changes in Saudi’s family law with regards to custody of children and the right of divorce. In addition, the petition demands an end to the Kingdom’s ban on women driving.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to hold a driver’s license. Also under Saudi law, all women and girls must have a male guardian. In most cases, women in the Kingdom are forbidden from travelling, doing business, marrying, divorcing, opening a bank account  – even undergoing certain medical procedures – without the permission of their guardian.

A woman’s guardian can be her father, brother, husband – even her son.

The petition, which was sent to coincide with International Women’s Day (March 8), was rejected by the male-dominated Shura Council. The council is appointed by the king and advises him on policy, however, it has no legislative power itself.

Activist and business woman Khuloud Saleh Alfahad, who supports the petition, said, “I don’t have any identity here in Saudi Arabia. Every woman, even the most conservative, would be happy to see an end to male guardianship.”…

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