The title says it all: Saudi women don't need a man's permission to travel!
A new long awaited law has been issued by the Royal Prince Mohammad bin Salman allowing women over the age of 21 to travel outside of Saudi without a male guardian’s permission and I can’t be happier!
As a Saudi national, I know how this affected my life not being to travel without a permission. I am very thankful that my father and mother have allowed me to leave Saudi to pursue my higher education and to travel not only for education but also for the joy of exploring the world.
I was reading a post about misconception about Saudi women and it was saying the guardian’s permission is a “cultural thing” and the law. Of course I laughed when I read this because it was such fiction and not fact! I am not sure where they got this information from.
I reached the age of 31 with this LAW in place. My mother is in her 50s now and she was still getting a permission from her male guardian to travel. It was 100% LAW. You even get stopped in the airport if you did not have it. It was a paper permission when I was in my early 20s, but then it changed to an electronic system, where the male guardian. There is even an art installation called “Suspended Together” by Manal Al Dowayan, a Saudi artist, show casing flying doves with a copy of the paper travel permission slip.
“Suspended Together” is an installation that gives the impression of movement and freedom. However, a closer look at the 200 doves allows the viewer to realize that the doves are actually frozen and suspended with no hope of flight. An even closer look shows that each dove carries on its body a permission document that allows a Saudi woman to travel. Notwithstanding their circumstances, all Saudi women are required to have this document, issued by their appointed male guardian.”
This year, August 2019, the LAW has finally changed and it is now allowing Saudi women to be able to renew their own passports and they are not requiring a male guardian’s permission, which finally means the freedom of movement is finally happening. There will be probably family and cultural clashes about it, but at least the government has removed this restriction.
These new regulations are history in the making. They call for the equal engagement of women and men in our society. It is a holistic approach to gender equality that will unquestionably create real change for Saudi women. 3/4— Reema Bandar Al-Saud (@rbalsaud) August 2, 2019
I wrote a post in 2015 questioning if Saudi women can travel and I said that it all depends on how the male guardian in a Saudi woman’s life feels. This new law implemented in 2019 will also allow Saudi women to apply for their own passports and be able to get their own documents not only regarding travel, but also to file their own birth, marriage and/or divorce documentations.
I remember earlier this year, Jan 2019, I went back home to Saudi to renew my passport and I waited a whole week for my dad to take an appointment and then find the time to finally go to get my passport renewed because I was not allowed to do it myself!
Even though my father took his time with my documents, but at least I had the option to rely on him. I would be devastated if I was under the guardianship of a younger brother or a long distance uncle. Saudi women who have lost their fathers or their husbands have seriously struggled with that hugely.
My 70 year old grandmother had to go to court with her son, my uncle and be dependent on him to renew a few legal documents. This is just one example of inconvenience and I can tell you at least ten very similar other stories of women who had to wait months to travel or get an important legal thing done because of waiting on a distant relative.
It is 1 am in #NYC— Muna AbuSulayman منى (@abusulayman) August 2, 2019
And I can't sleep.
The changes that occurred today in setting سن الرشد the age of adulthood for women and men at 21 is so much more than lifting the travel permission.
It signals full equality in the eye of the law. It signals what modern Sharia is capable of
With this new law, widowed women can finally be able to help her own children in renewing their passports and some legal document registration without the endless wait of a male guardian.
This is a great step in the right direction and although there are still issues with the Saudi guardianship system, I am hopeful for more positive changes that will completely librate Saudi women from depending on the men in their lives for marriage, getting out of abusive relationship and a few other things.
I am very excited for my next trip home to Saudi, where I don’t feel that I could ever be trapped and can enter and leave without depending on anyone else!