RIYADH: A Saudi court has ruled in favour of a woman whose father refused to allow her to have a passport, local media reported Thursday, sending ripples in the kingdom which has long held to its male guardianship system.
The 24-year-old woman from the western city of Jeddah, whose name was not given, had asked the court to remove her father’s role as guardian after he refused to take the necessary steps to obtain a passport for her to study abroad, according to the pro-government daily Okaz and other Saudi media outlets.
The traditional Saudi system obliges women to obtain the permission of their closest male relative for many decisions, including travelling and marrying.
The Saudi court ordered the plaintiff’s father to provide her with a passport, according to the media reports, which did not say when the unusual ruling was made.
According to the Okaz daily, the young woman in question lives with her mother and has not seen her father for six years.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has in recent months initiated a string of social reforms which have slightly loosened the restrictions on women, including allowing them to drive cars, attend football matches and enter areas of employment previously reserved for men, such as notarial work.
Its part of the country’s wide-ranging “Vision 2030” programme, approved in April 2016, which also includes privatising part of oil giant Aramco and creating a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund.
As well as elevating the role of women in the workforce, the programme also foresees massive investment in the underdeveloped entertainment sector to boost domestic spending.
The court’s decision provoked numerous reactions on social media.
“I’m surprised at the contradictions in the system,” one Saudi woman tweeted.
“Finally the father is obliged to order a passport despite himself. Why aren’t women allowed to obtain their own passports without this waste of time and all this hassle?” another asked.— AFP