In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, women are prohibited from leaving the country without seeking permission from a male guardian. But a Saudi Arabian woman activist wants Saudi Arabian strict guardianship laws changed in order to give women the right to travel freely without seeking permission from their male guardian.
Wajeha al-Huwaider, a Saudi Arabian woman activist left her home without seeking permission from her male guardian and proceeded to the island kingdom of Bahrain. Despite having a valid passport, authorities at the border did not allow her to cross and sent her home instead. That’s because she needs permission from a male guardian before she is allowed to leave the country.
The woman activist new beforehand that she will be refused passage at the border but she was just making a point about the strict guardianship laws which she says’ controls all aspects of women’s lives’.
"Either you treat us like mature citizens or let us leave the country (permanently)," she told CNN.
She's urging all Saudi women who are tired of "being oppressed" to go "to any border and try to cross it without permission from their male guardians.
Human Rights Watch has criticized the Saudi government for not living up to commitments it made to the United Nations Human Rights Council. HRW issued a report last year detailing the negative impact of the guardianship system on Saudi women. It said Saudi officials have asserted that such guardianship requirements do not exist.
"The Saudi government is saying one thing to the Human Rights Council in Geneva but doing another thing inside the kingdom," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director. "It needs to stop requiring adult women to seek permission from men, not just pretend to stop it
Efforts to reach the Saudi government for comment were unsuccessful.
The woman activist tried three times to cross the Saudi Arabian border just to make a point with the authorities, each time she is turned down and sent back to her home. She said she will continue her crusade.
Women’s rights are limited in the Kingdom. Women are not allowed to vote or even drive. But earlier King Abdullah has appointed a woman cabinet member in a government reshuffle which was hailed within Saudi Arabia as a step forward in women’s rights.