Friday, October 14, 2005

Saudi women push for review of 'mahram' system

Saudi women push for review of 'mahram' system

By Mariam Al Hakeem, Correspondent
Riyadh: Saudi women have expressed deep concern over the decision banning them from travelling unless they are accompanied by male guardians (mahram) and have called for a review of the same.
Recently, the private human rights commission in Makkah region has intervened to return a passport to a Saudi woman after her brother handed it to the passports office in order to prevent her from travelling abroad.
The brother claimed that his sister was not in need of the passport though he knew that she had to attend training courses abroad.
This case and several similar ones have prompted Saudi women to protest publicly against this situation.
This is particularly applicable to women who have recently joined the business world and some other professionals such as physicians.
The Islamic system in Saudi Arabia bans women from travelling alone without mahram.
Speaking to Gulf News, Nawal, a Saudi businesswoman, stressed that this system must be reconsidered.
"It limits the free movement of women and their ability to participate in the social development of the Saudi society," she said.
She added that there was no justification to keep such a rule since the travel of women alone does not contradict Islamic teachings.
She said her business entails that she should go every now and then to other GCC countries to bring goods from there to sell them in the kingdom.
As her husband, a businessman too, has no time to accompany her she said there was no way for her but to travel alone.
"My husband does not object and therefore there is no justification to prevent me from travelling wherever I want."
Lina, a university graduate, said that she was given an opportunity to go abroad to study for a doctorate degree, but the condition that she must bring a male guardian has so far prevented her from travelling.

Other articles from Saudi Arabia
1m copies of the Quran to be given out free
Saudi king vows to crush Al Qaida
Saudi women will drive one day, says King Abdullah

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