April 17, 2024

‘State-sanctioned domestic abuse’: Middle Eastern and North African countries forcing women to obtain travel permits from men

Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa are punishing women with “state-sanctioned domestic abuse” by stopping them from traveling for free, researchers have warned.

A damning new report, by Human Rights Watch, found that many nations in this region still prevented women from traveling within their own country, obtaining a passport, or going abroad without the approval of a male guardian – which is their husband, father or father in general. brother

Researchers found that women can be arrested, detained or forced to go home if male guardians in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait report them as “absent” from their homes. While in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, women are not allowed to leave the prison without the permission of a male guardian.

Rothna Begum, senior researcher on women’s rights at Human Rights Watch said The Independent The rules push women back into their homes and out of the public sphere and are akin to “state-sanctioned domestic abuse”.

She added: “Some nations have laws that essentially sanction and allow domestic abuse, including coercive control, and that express men’s control over women’s lives.

“Some men support women but these rules complicate relationships in a way that makes women more vulnerable to domestic violence. These rules encourage more violence against women.”

Miss Begum warned that “various restrictions on women’s right to freedom of movement” are being imposed by authorities in this region “from leaving the house to leaving the country”.

She argued that women living in the region “are fighting against restrictions that authorities often claim are for their protection, but in reality, they would take away their rights.”

Researchers have found that old and new rules force women to get permission from their male guardians, but the issue is growing in some nations, such as Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom imposed its first written Personal Status Law in March 2022, formalizing the long-standing convention of forcing women to follow their husbands’ orders “in a reasonable manner” or provide financial assistance to their spouses if they choose not to live in the matrimonial home. “without legitimate excuse”.

“Even as women’s rights activists gain some freedoms, the authorities seek to take others away, taking back not only women’s rights, but harming children, families and society,” said Mr. Begum.

“All authorities in the Middle East and North Africa should end any discriminatory restriction on women’s freedom of movement, including all male guardianship rules.”

​​​​The report found that 15 nations in this area still impose personal status or family laws that force women to “submit” to their husbands, live with them, or seek consent to leave the marital home, travel or work. The courts can direct women to return to their matrimonial home or strip them of their right to spousal maintenance.

Researchers analyzed dozens of laws, rules and policies and looked at information from lawyers, activists and women in 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The report found that women do not have the same rights to go abroad with their children as men in some countries in the region.

But Human Rights Watch argued that male guardianship rules in this part of the world can be found outside of this region – warning that the practices were “influenced by a wider history of laws and traditions around the world, with -includes European legal traditions, which gave or still give. men’s control over women’s lives”.

Researchers found in some nations included in the report, they can face discrimination when trying to rent an apartment or stay in hotels if they are not married or have the consent of a male guardian.

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