Saudi Women File First Petition To End Male Guardianship

For the first time ever, a petition calling for an end to the sexist guardianship system is being submitted to the Saudi government.

Saudi Women

Women in Saudi Arabia have been campaigning for their rights for quite some time now against the sexist male guardianship system of the country.

However, for the first time ever, a petition has been directly filed to the Saudi government by more than 14,000 women living in the ultraconservative kingdom to abolish the controversial practice.

As per Saudi laws, a woman needs permission of her male blood relative or husband to do carry out even the most menial tasks, such as riding a bike or getting a passport.

Recent changes implemented by King Salman, for example, allowing women to vote in municipal elections indicated slight progress, but even that, in essence, lacked significance in terms of leading real change.

However, thousands of Saudi women have come together for the first time to directly tell their government that they have had enough of the repressive legal system that forces them to spend their lives under the thumbs of their male relations.

The petition to end the guardianship system was launched after a Twitter hashtag #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianship went viral in July. The social media campaign itself was prompted by a damning Human Rights Watch report that was released in the same month.

HRW researcher Kristine Beckerle, who worked on the report, said the petition and the movement behind it was "incredible and unprecedented."

"I was flabbergasted — not only by the scale, but the creativity with which they've been doing it," she told the BBC. "They've made undeniably clear they won't stand to be treated as second-class citizens any longer, and it's high time their government listened."

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