Women in Saudi Arabia are having their movements tracked by the government and sent to their husbands through text message, according to Saudi activists across the country.
News spread about the text message alerts when a couple leaving the country received a message from the government that the wife had crossed the country's border. As part of a new electronic passport system established in 2010, when a woman or child crosses the border into a different country the Interior Ministry sends a text message to alert their male guardian. Originally the alerts were only sent to those who signed up for the service, however the husband who received the message never registered to participate in the service.
When the husband received the message, the couple contacted Manal al-Sharif, a prominent Saudi women's rights activist who protested the ban on women drivers. Al-Sharif immediately began organizing around the alerts and told CNN, "It's very shameful. ...It shows how women are still being treated as minors." As soon as the couple told her what happened, she began to tweet what was happening and it soon went viral.
"It's a power that's being used over women," according Eman Al Nafjan. Al Nafjan is Saudi writer who advocates ending the practice of male guardianship in the country all together. "Women are not free. No matter how old you are, you're always a minor. It's almost like slavery. Guardianship is practically ownership." Currently every woman and underage child in Saudi Arabia must be granted permission to leave the country by their male guardian, who is either their father, husband, or brother.
Media Resources: CNN 11/26/12; BBC News 11/23/12; Huffington Post UK 11/23/12; Al Arabia 11/22/12; Feminist Newswire 6/17/11
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .