Saudi women 'will be able to leave the country without man's permission'

Saudi women 'will be able to leave the country without man's permission'

Reforms planned by the Saudi Arabian government could mean that women living in the country may be allowed to travel without the permission of a man as early as this year.

Currently, legislation means that women of all ages require the express consent of a male relative to hold their own passport or travel abroad. Saudi officials have told the Wall Street Journal that the laws are due to be relaxed as part of a series of gradual social reforms.

A member of the Saudi royal family allegedly told the Wall Street Journal that: "There is no question that the leadership, the government and the people want to see this system changed. The current discussion is about how to make this happen as soon as possible without causing a stir."

A change to the legislation surrounding travel could have a radical impact on life for women in the country, where human rights organisations claim that sexism and misogyny have denied women basic rights for generations.

Saudi women will still require permission from male relative to do other things however, including getting married, divorcing and obtaining their own passport.

Commenting on the potential reforms, executive director of Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, stated: "We certainly hope it’s true. It’s odd that this news has not come from an official announcement, but it could be a sign that internally there is an effort to leak information like this to pressure Mohammed bin Salman into actually making this move."

Meanwhile, activist and academic Hala al-Dosari stated: "If it does happen it would lead to a spike in women seeking asylum. It would also be a huge fanfare for [Bin Salman’s] supposed credentials as a reformer."

The country's alleged human rights violations have come under much scrutiny this month after rapper Cardi B pulled out of a scheduled festival there, after facing significant backlash from irate Saudi conservatives.