RIYADH – Saudi Arabia will allow women to travel abroad without the approval of a male “guardian,” the government said on Thursday, ending a restriction that sparked international censorship and led to extreme attempts to flee the kingdom.
The historical reform modifies the old system of guardianship that makes women permanently underage and allows their “guardians” – husband, father, and other male relatives – to exercise arbitrary authority over them.
The decision, after years of campaigning by activists, comes after attempts by women to escape their guardians despite a series of reforms, including a landmark decree last year that overturned the world’s only ban on women drivers.
“A passport will be granted to any Saudi citizen who submits an application,” the government said in a ruling published in the official Umm Al Qura newspaper.
Women over 21 will be able to make passports without the “compulsory permission of a guardian,” says Okaz newspaper. They can now also be considered guardians of minors and register newborns with state officials.
Meanwhile, US Senators have introduced a bill aimed at limiting nuclear technology exports to Saudi Arabia.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, which had access to the full text of the bill, the law assumes that the US waives nuclear cooperation agreements with Riyadh and imposes a series of restrictions to limit access to nuclear weapons by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia should be subject to restrictions until it renounces uranium enrichment and reprocessing.
Under the bill, presented by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris Van Hollen, another requirement for Saudi Arabia would be the signing of a cooperation agreement with the US within the framework of its nuclear energy law, which regulates the use civil and peaceful atom protection and the ratification of security protocols that correspond to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) policy.
The law also states that Eximbank must inform Congress of any agreement on the supply of nuclear materials to Saudi Arabia .