Downloaded more than one million times, with over six million registered users, an app called Absher is allowing Saudi Arabian men to track “their” women. In Saudi Arabia, it is still considered illegal for women to travel without the permission of their male guardian.
With this law, the controversial app (created by the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s National Information Center) has now become available in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, allowing Saudi men to not only track the women, but allowing men to say when and how their wives can cross Saudi borders, which airports they can use, how long the women are allowed to be gone, and where they’re allowed to go. The men are allowed to change settings and permissions whenever they want.
If a woman goes outside of her guardian’s range, the app alerts the man, and further prohibits the woman from fleeing. She is then apprehended and returned to her guardian and/or faces the consequential punishments.
In retaliation, some women are secretly changing the settings on their male guardians’ phones to allow themselves to travel beyond the range of their guardians’ restrictions.
You can read further about the app, by visiting:
Further, critics and human rights groups are holding Apple and Google accountable, calling them to investigate and shut down the app.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Amnesty International said, “We call on Apple and Google to assess the risk of human rights abuses on women, which is facilitated by the App, and mitigate the harm that the App has on women. The use of the Absher app to curtail the movement of women once again highlights the disturbing system of discrimination against women under the guardianship system and the need for genuine human rights reforms in the country, rather than just social and economic reforms.”
The call-to-action for removing this abusive and demeaning app is still in progress.
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