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Suspension of System that Notifies Saudi Men of Female Relatives' Border Movements

It might sound like science fiction, but it’s reality: in Saudi Arabia, an electronic system automatically informs male guardians about the arrival and departure status of their female dependents.

The system, enforced by the Passports Department, sends an SMS to the male guardian whenever a female member of his family crosses the country’s border.

Currently, use of the system has been suspended, and the program will undergo amendment.

“In the past, the system included all the names that were registered,” said Lt. Col. Ahmad Al-Laheedan, spokesperson of the Passports Department. “However, in the next phase, it will be optional.”

Multiple sources have spoken out positively about changes being made to the system; many propopse banishing it altogether.

Arguing that the notification process never should have been introduced at all, Saudi columnist and assistant professor Sabria S. Jawhar called the system “humiliating for women.”

“I hope this is a step toward canceling the whole system,” she continued. “We are born Muslim and we know the principles of our religion. There is no need for anyone, including the government, to monitor our behavior.”

The system has also been accused to belittlingly monitoring women in a way more befitting the monitoring of a child.

Maha Akeel, managing editor of the OIC Journal has referred to the system, with its implications that women cannot be trusted, as an insult to women.

Others, however, approved of the system as a means for families to keep track of across-the-border movements of their children and female relatives. The system has also been praised as a major step towards eliminating bureaucratic paperwork that previously required that guardians sign permission forms.


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