Saudi Arabian women monitored using electronic tracking techniques


Saudi students attend the second International Conference and Exhibition on Higher Education, in Riyadh, on April 19, 2011.


Fayez Nureldine

The male guardians of Saudi Arabian women are now informed by text message when their "charges" leave the country—even when they are traveling together.

The Saudi Arabian governments unannounced move has drawn intensive criticism from activists, and has sparked much Twitter outrage.

AFP reports that the government's new SMS technique began only last week, adding another layer to the control the Saudi Arabian government currently exerts over women's lives.

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The news was broken by Manal al-Sherif on her Twitter account, who became internationally famous after defying Saudi Arabia's ban on women drivers.

The system has been operational for sometime, says the Riyadh Bureau blog, but men formally had to register for it. Now, men are automatically informed of their dependents (including adult women, children, and any foreign workers they sponsor) movements outside the country at all times.

Saudi Arabia's new system is not a GPS tracking scheme, however: it merely tells men when women (and dependents) leave the country, and does not state which country they've departed for, added Riyadh Bureau.

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Saudi Arabia is among the most restrictive nations in the world for women: a global survey by rated the absolute monarchy as the second worst nation in the world for female residents, outmatched only by India.

“Women and girls in Saudi Arabia are treated as perpetual minors living under male guardianship all their lives—with restrictions on employment, political participation, travel, education and healthcare,” said Yasmeen Hassan, the global director of Equality Now, to