„Arwa initially came to the US as a student before returning to Saudi Arabia to work for several years. There she says her parents began to turn on her as she began questioning the restrictions placed on women in Saudi society. Her frustrations grew to the point that one night she sneaked out of her family home and arranged to travel across the border to Bahrain, where she boarded a flight to begin her journey to the US. Leaving her home and Saudi Arabia were against the wishes of her father, who is also her legal guardian, and doing either could have landed her in jail. Every woman in Saudi Arabia, regardless of age, has a legal male guardian, often a father or brother or son. Guardians have the power to make a range of critical decisions on a woman’s behalf. Women need to get their permission to travel abroad, marry and sometimes to work or access health care.
The guardianship system is ‚the most significant impediment to realizing women’s rights in the country,‘ Human Rights Watch said in a report released in July. The report helped inspire a social media campaign among Saudi women calling for an end to the system. Throughout the summer Saudi women began tweeting, detailing the injustices of the guardianship system – risking the wrath of their guardians and the government in doing so. They got noticed. In September, the country’s most senior religious authority, the Grand Mufti, described the social media campaign as a ‚crime targeting the Saudi and Muslim society.‘ But they haven’t stopped.“ (Donie O’Sullivan: „The Saudi women afraid to go home“)