It was only last year that women in Saudi Arabia finally gained the right to vote. However, it seems a sad case of ‘one step forward, two steps back’, as this year it was discovered that all Saudi women are being electronically tracked by their male ‘guardians’, who are automatically sent text messages when their female ‘dependants’ attempt to cross the border. For women seeking to escape abusive relationships, or simply the severe generalised oppression of women that operates throughout Saudi Arabia, this measure could be the nail in their coffins.
The automatic text alerts are part of an electronic passport system which was launched last year by Saudi authorities. However, the scheme of alerting male guardians to the cross-border movements of female dependents with SMS messages is thought to have been in operation for the past two years on an opt-in basis.