Four men in Saudi Arabia were arrested over the suspicion that they helped two women escape their family home.
The two sisters, who are reportedly in their twenties, went missing in the Saudi city of Ha’il. As soon as authorities were alerted of their escape, a search operation was launched to look for the women.
The women, who remain unidentified, were later found along with four men in a rest stop in the city of Buraydah. After being found, they were handed to police authorities in Ha’il.
The sisters were unharmed when police found them and there was no sign or evidence that the women were forced to leave their family home, or, in any case they were kidnapped.
However, police said they believe the four men lured the women to flee their home and despite the fact there was no evidence to suggest “kidnapping” ,as claimed by the police, the men have been referred for public prosecution.
The incident once again highlights the plight of women in the conservative Saudi kingdom.
In Saudi Arabia, men are the permanent, legal guardians of all women. A Saudi woman cannot study, marry, get divorced or even travel without the formal permission or companionship of her father, brother, son or husband.
Recently, in what appeared to be a hasty measure to appease critics over Saudi Arabia’s draconian male guardianship rules, King Salman issued a new order, allowing women “greater access to government services without the consent of a male relative.”
However, the directive didn’t end male guardianship but merely loosened some restrictions. For instance, it gave Saudi women access “to a job, higher education or medical procedures, without a male guardian's permission,” according to the Associated Press.
However, the order failed to address the issue of whether or not the controversial issue of women needing approval of a male relative to travel within the country.
This year, thousands of women in Saudi Arabia took the wheel, for the first time in decades, after the government finally lifted its controversial ban on female drivers. However, ever since the ban was lifted, women have constantly been a subject of harassment.
Although the kingdom is amending its laws, women in the country should be granted their right to unconditional freedom. Moreover, the mentality of people in the country is something that needs to change as they should accept women and respect their rights.
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