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Saudi Arabia 'to allow women to study abroad without male guardian'

Saudi Arabia is loosening some restrictions on women [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 August, 2019

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In the midst of a human rights crackdown, Saudi Arabia may loosen restrictions on women travelling abroad to study.

Saudi women may soon be able to travel to university abroad without a male guardian, a top diplomatic official has said.

The Saudi cultural attaché in the United States Mohammed al-Issa said he is expected to receive instructions from the ministry of education to cancel the requirement of women to bring a male chaperone when they study abroad.

Al-Issa said a number of Saudi women are asking to study at US universities without a male guardian and their cases are being studied by authorities.

He added that the decision will be able to solve problems of young women not being able to leave without their male guardians - especially those who resort to getting married to be allowed to travel.

In 2018, a decree from the Saudi monarchy ended the long-standing restrictions that prevented women from going to university, getting a job or undergoing surgery without a male guardian.

The loosening of restrictions for Saudi women has taken place during a massive crackdown on women's rights activists.

Some of the activists, such as Loujain al-Hathoul, have been reportedly tortured at Saudi prisons.

The reforms are also happening in conjunction with other advances that perpetuate restrictions on women.

In February, the Saudi interior ministry manufactured an application that actually allows male guardians to track female family members via their phones and to prevent them from travelling.

The app is particularly popular with families that fear their female relatives may flee domestic imprisonment and abuse.

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