CAIRO – Women in Saudi Arabia have been manipulating a cellphone application that monitors their location for the benefit of their male guardians in order to be able to travel out of the country, a woman interviewed by EFE has said.
The woman, who identified herself as “Rana,” said that when she was 20-years-old she had asked her father, her official guardian, to grant her authorization for a passport via an app called Absher.
“My father said ‘we do not travel abroad. Why do you need it?’” Rana told EFE over the phone from Saudi Arabia, adding that her father proceeded to shout and accused her of trying to escape the Middle Eastern country.
Rana, who was not phased by his reaction, managed to get onto the app using her father’s cellphone, using his account to give herself approval for a passport, which she then had delivered to her home.
“Many Saudi women do the same. Many parents are old and need their sons and daughters to open their accounts and issue paperwork electronically,” Rana said.
“This makes it easier for women to get access to their parents’ accounts and take advantage of them,” she said.
Rana said she was unable to travel abroad even after she got her passport because she still needed permission to travel on her scheduled departure date and time from her guardian.
“Absher follows the movements of women and sends the guardian a message with the woman’s name, the airport, and the flight ahead of the takeoff,” she said.
“This enables the guardian to electronically reject the woman’s trip at the last moment in case she used the account without the consent,” she continued.
“This presents a great obstacle for Saudi women when they try to leave the country,” Rana bemoaned.
Through Absher, an app launched by the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, citizens can carry out most travel procedures without having to go to government offices.
Absher also allows men to register women and minors under their guardianship and grant or deny the permits those under their protection need in order to enroll in schools, travel abroad or get married.