Saudi Arabia criticised over SMS tracking of women
A Saudi Arabian man can keep tabs on his wife with an electronic monitoring system that alerts them when she is attempting to depart the country.
The system works by sending a text message to men to inform them when women from their family are leaving or entering Saudi Arabia.
In the strict Muslim country, women are obliged to have a male guardian who takes accountability for them (such as their father, brother or husband) and are not permitted to leave Saudi Arabia without the consent of that man.
Equal rights campaigners are angered by the move in a country that already places strong limitation on its women. Saudi Arabia applies strict Sharia law and has been voted the second worst on women’s rights by Thomson Reuters’ global survey. It is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.
The many moves to block women’s rights have caused high unemployment rates amongst females in the country, estimated at 30% of the population. Even female lawyers with a law degree face injustice and cannot plead in court, although a law has gone through suggesting that they can. It has so far been ignored.
The move to track women via SMS has come with widespread condemnation and one Twitter post said: “If I need an SMS to let me know my wife is leaving Saudi Arabia, then I’m either married to the wrong woman or need a psychiatrist.”
A columnist of the Saudi Gazette, Badriya al-Bishr, said: “This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned.”
It is thought that the system has been up and running for two years, but had to be signed up to. It is now automatic and will more than likely affect every Saudi citizen.