Saudi Arabia isn't exactly a champion of women's rights — it's the only country in the world where women aren't allowed to drive. But last week, the reclusive kingdom gave "new meaning to the phrase 'women's movement'" when it began tracking women who attempt to leave the country with an "innovative and controversial" SMS service, says Addy Dugdale at Fast Company.
The electronic monitoring service sends a text message to a woman's husband, father, or other male guardian when she arrives at an airport or attempts to cross a border — even if the man is traveling with her. The system is meant to be a high-tech version of the "Yellow Slip" law already in place in the country, which forbids women from traveling abroad without male accompaniment and requires a male signature on a yellow sheet of paper in order to leave the country.
After Saudis got wind of the new law, many lashed out on Twitter, since the site is a "rare bubble of freedom" in the otherwise oppressive country. "This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned," Saudi columnist Badriya al-Bishr tells AFP, while others lamented half-jokingly that implanting microchips on women could be the next step. Rwandan journalist Ruzindana Rugasaguhunga chimed in:
"If I need an SMS to let me know my wife is leaving Saudi Arabia then I'm either married to the wrong woman or need a psychiatrist"- Hisham— RUGASA (@RuzindanaRUGASA) November 22, 2012
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- The Pentagon's troubled, expensive new fighter jet
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- Hey, grammar nerds! Stop freaking out about 'alot.'
Subscribe to the Week