Saudi women 'could apply for passports' under new proposals

Shura council backs legislative amendments permitting women to travel without male consent
Saudi women 'could apply for passports' under new proposals
(AFP/Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Tue 05 Jul 2016 01:38 PM

Saudi Arabia’s Shura council has backed a landmark proposal allowing women to obtain passports and travel without needing male consent, according to reports from the kingdom.

The Committee of Security Affairs at the Shoura Council supported planned amendments to travel document laws that in effect overturn long-established social and cultural traditions in Saudi Arabia.

All Saudi women require male permission to travel out of the country – whether they are single or married – and they must be chaperoned by a male family member or their husband.

However, the new proposals would mean any woman in Saudi Arabia aged 18 or over could apply for a passport without male consent provided she meets all stated conditions.

Once approved, she could then travel outside the country, although the reports did not say whether she would still need a male chaperone.

Arab News, citing Arabic daily Al Madinah, said the proposed amendment “seek to bring the passport issuance procedures up to date with global standards adopted by many advanced countries”.

It moves the kingdom a step closer to granting Saudi women full citizenship rights, the newspaper added, although the Shura council stated that measures must be taken to ensure this does not “jeopardise the national security of the country”.

The amendments would also seek to ensure that guardians do not “take advantage of Saudi women who get passports by brainwashing them and sending them abroad to conflict-stricken states, such as Yemen, Iraq and Syria”.

“Saudi women will be empowered to get their own travel documents themselves and feel equality with Saudi men. All obstacles caused by the guardianship system and the difficulties some male guardians impose on women will be eliminated forever,” the newspaper claimed.

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