Saudi Women File Historic Petition To End Male Guardianship

Second-class citizenship is unacceptable.

One year after women in Saudi Arabia gained the right to vote in municipal elections, the fight to end sexism in that country continues. More than 14,000 Saudi women just signed a petition demanding that their country's controversial male guardianship system come to an end.

The petition was delivered to the Royal Court on Monday.

The backlash against the outdated system in Saudi Arabia stemmed from a July report created by the Human Rights Watch campaign. According to the report, women must obtain permission from a male guardian — usually her father or another male relative — in order to travel, marry or conduct most financial transactions.

"Women here are trapped, they can't do anything," a Saudi woman told CNN. "It depends on your guardian, if he is OK, and if he is a good man he'll let you work, or let you study, which is a basic right. If he's not, he's going to prevent you from that."

After the report was published, Saudi women used viral hashtags like #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianships and #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen to bravely speak out against the restrictive conditions in their country.


Ms Saffaa, a Saudi street artist, created a popular T-shirt to rally women in her country around this important issue.

In addition to the petition, women also sent personal telegrams to convince King Salman to abolish the male guardianship system.

"I was flabbergasted — not only by the scale, but the creativity with which they've been doing it," Human Rights Watch researcher Kristine Beckerle told the BBC. "They've made undeniably clear they won't stand to be treated as second-class citizens any longer, and it's high time their government listened."

Activists are still waiting for an official response from their government about the petition.

"The message is: women have to be full citizens, like men," Aziza al-Yousef, a leading women's rights activists who personally delivered the petition, said to the Wall Street Journal. "I am very hopeful."


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