In a country where women have almost no rights, the recent introduction of a technology that tracks women’s movement in Saudi Arabia is inviting fresh criticisms.
Saudi Arabia already bans women from driving, disapproves women sports, and restricts their presence in most of work places. The recent operation of an electronic system to track all cross-border movement of women is a severe setback for women’s liberation.
Ironically, the system functions even if a woman is travelling with a male ‘guardian’, even with her husband, with a text immediately sent to the man.
According to Saudi rules, women compulsorily need a formal approval from their guardians to travel abroad, and are asked to hand over an infamous "yellow slip", endorsed by a male, at the airport or border.
The fresh move to track women’s movements has triggered protests. Saudi women perceive the introduction of tracking system as an infringement on their privacy.
The system came into effect in April as part of Saudi Arabia’s modernizing e-government plan. The aim was to replace the yellow slip" with electronic system. Earlier, the text was sent to “guardians” who opted for the system, but now the text messages are being transmitted globally.