New law allows Saudi women to travel without male consent

It will allow all Saudi women to apply for passports "like all citizens" and for women aged 21 and above to travel independently, according to a statement from the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Information.

This follows a string of high profile cases where Saudi women ran away from their families, somehow escaped overseas, and then sought asylum.

Though Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman advocates ambitious reforms for the country's females, women remain in the shadow of men.

Saudi Arabia is facing heightened scrutiny over its human rights record, including its ongoing trial of the women activists.

The reform grants women greater autonomy and mobility, the pro-government Saudi Gazette newspaper said, hailing the decision as "one giant leap for Saudi women".

In other changes, women can register family events, like marriages or divorces, but cannot initiate them.

Women still face other restrictions in the conservative kingdom.

"These changes are a clear testament to the tireless campaigning of women's rights activists who have battled against rampant discrimination in Saudi Arabia for decades". Under Vision 2030, the Kingdom's plan for economic reform and reduction on oil dependency spearheaded by the Crown Prince, the expansion of women's rights and increased female participation in all facets of life has been placed at the forefront of reformation efforts.

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New laws have been passed in Saudi Arabia that mean that women will no longer need the permission of a male guardian to travel. "From the inclusion of women in the consultative council to issuing driving licenses to women, our leadership has proved its unequivocal commitment to gender equality", she said.

Legit.ng reported earlier how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia organised a $1.83 million (N192 million) worth of competition for all Muslims across the world.

Saudi Arabia has always been under scrutiny over its treatment of women in the kingdom, with activists saying they were often treated as "second-class citizens".

Many Saudi officials say the fault lies in implementation and not government policy.

Another user said: "This is a historic change for entire Saudi society to help their economic freedom move forward".

Reema bint Bandar, the Saudi ambassador in Washington, appeared to acknowledge the changes were long overdue, but part of a grand vision. They have also opened the door to further change that may be less in their control.

That includes Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent rights activist who marked her 30th birthday this week in a Saudi prison.

Last year's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents caused a global outcry, however, and the Gulf Arab state has been widely criticized for the arrest and alleged torture of almost a dozen women activists.

  • Sonia Alvarado