Saudi Arabia to ease women's travel restrictions

The plan would end the travel law forcing a woman to travel with a man if she is over 18-years-old.

By
July 12, 2019 10:14
2 minute read.
Women wearing traditional Saudi clothing, or an abaya

Women wearing traditional Saudi clothing, or an abaya. (photo credit: REUTERS/FAISAL AL NASSER)

 
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Saudi Arabia is planning on easing travel restrictions for women, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The plan would end the travel law forcing a woman to travel with a man if she is over 18-years-old. This loosening of restrictions would also allow woman to leave the country without the consent of a male relative. The current law allows women or men under the age of 21 to travel abroad only with the permission of a guardian.

The report said that the laws obliging women to receive a guardian’s consent to marry, leave prison or leave a shelter for abuse victims, would still remain intact.

The move to change the law comes after Saudi women fled the country, complaining about the guardianship laws and saying it made them slaves to their male family members, the report said.

“There is no question that the leadership, the government and the people want to see this system changed,” said a Saudi royal family member, the Journal reported. “The current discussion is about how to make this happen as soon as possible without causing a stir.”

US rapper Nicki Minaj recently cancelled her concert to Saudi Arabia because of the issues in the Middle Eastern country concerning women and LGBTQ rights.

"While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression,” the "Starships" singer said in a statement.

Over a year ago in June, Saudi women took to the roads as the ban on female drivers ended.

"It's a beautiful day," said businesswoman Samah al-Qusaibi as she cruised the eastern city of Khobar just after midnight when the ban ended with police looking on. "Today we are here," she said from the driver's seat. "Yesterday we sat there," she added, pointing to the back.

The lifting of the ban, ordered by King Salman, is part of sweeping reforms pushed by his powerful young son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a bid to transform the economy of the world's top oil exporter and open up its cloistered society.

However, since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, where the prince was seen as complicit, bin Salman's reforms have been looked at with a skeptical eye.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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