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Saudi Arabia lifts travel restrictions on women

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 2, 2019 - Duration: 01:32s

Saudi Arabia lifts travel restrictions on women

In a series of royal decrees, Saudi Arabia grants adult women the freedom to travel without permission and gives them more control over family matters.

The new resolutions chip away at a male guardianship system that critics say turns women into second-class citizens.

Eve Johnson reports.

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Saudi Arabia lifts travel restrictions on women

New freedoms for women in Saudi Arabia.

A series of royal decrees on Friday (August 2) have freed women to travel without having to get permission from a male guardian first.

Riyadh has long been criticized for rules that require women to get the consent of a male guardian for important decisions throughout their entire lives.

Critics say that under this system, women are often treated as second-class citizens.

But the kingdom's de facto ruler has been trying to change things.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is on a drive to open up the conservative Muslim kingdom and transform the economy.

Last year, as part of this push, he lifted a driving ban on women.

The new decrees state that a passport should be given to any citizen who applies for it and that people over the age of 21 do not need permission to travel.

They also give women more control over family matters like the right to register child birth, marriage and divorce.

The rules put in place employment protections, stating that all citizens have the right to work.

Thousands of Saudi women celebrated the news on social media, some calling it a new era.

But critics say the Gulf Arab state still has a long way to go when it comes to its record on human rights.

It has come under fire for the alleged torture of nearly a dozen women activists and several high-profile cases of young women who left the kingdom to seek asylum abroad.

And in spite of the new rules, women will still need permission from a male relative for other life choices like getting married or living on their own.

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