Women rights are gradually being restored in Saudi Arabia as women are now being allowed to move freely around without the permission of their husband or a male guardian, this new development comes at the back of the government allowing women to own driving licence and drive cars since last year. Although the new rule only applies to women that are 21 and over, it is still a significant development and win for women’s right and human rights in general.
The amendments to regulations also grant women for the first time the right to register child birth, marriage or divorce and to be issued official family documents and be eligible as a guardian to children who are minors.
Riyadh has long endured international censure over the status of women, who rights groups say are often treated as second-class citizens under rules requiring them to get the consent of a male guardian for important decisions throughout their entire lives, regardless of age.
Muna AbuSulayman, a prominent Saudi influencer and a former talk show host, took to Twitter along with thousands of Saudi women to celebrate what many described as a new era.
“A generation growing up completely free and equal to their brothers,” she said, referring to the freedom to travel.
Without a codified system of law to go with the texts making up sharia, or Islamic law, the Saudi police and judiciary have long cited social customs in enforcing prohibitions on women. Many aspects of guardianship stem from informal practice.
“Mohammed bin Salman has dedicated himself to fixing what extremists broke … This is not about openness as some call it, it is about equal rights for all,” a user called Wael tweeted.
The prince has pushed back against the religious establishment, including by arresting scores of clerics and dissidents.
Many citizens remain wary of the fast pace of change.
“We are a Muslim community not a Western one, may God keep our daughters safe from all evils,” said Sarah, a Saudi woman in her late 40s who declined to give her surname.
“Imagine if your girls grow up and leave you and don’t return, would you be happy?” she told Reuters.