No more runaways

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Okaz

Congratulations are due to Saudi women as the decision to amend regulations on travel documents and civil status has come into effect. This decision has brought down the curtain on a dangerous social taboo suffered by many families as some women fell under the mandate of an unjust husband or male family member.

Freedom is precious, especially the freedom of movement which is a human right, and what the Saudi leadership has done, despite different social pressures, is an historic step in the lives of Saudi women, that will end the pressure on young Saudi women who now have to learn to manage their own lives wisely.

Certainly, there are still some who do not accept this historic event, but the challenge now is how to educate families about the importance of nurturing young people with love and contentment, and not with threats of punishment. The next step is gaining the support of universities and schools in empowering young women.

It is also important to update regulations regarding the authority of the “mahram” as many young women find that their careers are hampered by the lack of a guardian, resulting in some resorting to strange “misyar” marriages and others looking for a man to marry so that they do not lose their scholarship to study abroad.

What is important now is the modernization of minds, and here I send a message to young women, especially in the light of the spread of sad clips of women who have run away from their families. I hope the door will be open for the return of these women and that they will be offered treatment programs and the right to live independently from their families.

It is sad that a young woman runs away to live in a foreign land and does not benefit from the experience to acquire languages and to learn, and just lives as a fugitive victim which unfortunately reinforces the negative perception of Saudi women.

This is why updating laws is a legal necessity. The Ministry of Education, through its schools and universities, needs to complement these laws and not leave the implementation of them entirely to the mood of officials.

Instead, any official who does not implement these decisions should be held accountable in order to send a clear message that young women will no longer be victims of discrimination.

The efforts of the Ministry of Education deserve to be commended, especially the appointment of a ministry spokeswoman. However, all of these developments make us demand more and emphasize the importance of schools and universities in our community.

Yes, no more runaways, no more threats of external or internal blackmail, and now we must emphasize the importance of the power of love and conscience. The decision that has been taken has now shifted the issue from the government to individual responsibility, and it is important to support our young daughters and open our hearts to them.

Areej Aljahani is a Saudi writer.


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