Saudi Arabia has allowed adult women to travel without permission and granted them more control over family matters, further eroding a heavily criticized male guardianship system at a time of heightened scrutiny over its human rights record.
A series of royal decrees published by the official gazette on Friday stipulated that a Saudi passport should be issued to any citizen who applies for it and that any person above the age of 21 does not need permission to travel. The amendments to regulations also grant women for the first time the right to register child birth, marriage or divorce and to be issued official family documents and be eligible as a guardian to children who are minors.
Riyadh has long endured international censure over the status of women, who rights groups say are often treated as second-class citizens under rules requiring them to get the consent of a male guardian for important decisions throughout their entire lives, regardless of age.
Muna AbuSulayman, a prominent Saudi influencer and a former talk show host, took to Twitter along with thousands of Saudi women to celebrate what many described as a new era. “A generation growing up completely free and equal to their brothers,” she said, referring to the freedom to travel.
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