Saudi Arabian government-backed Absher app lets men monitor and control women’s travel


Absher, an online platform and mobile phone app created by the Saudi Arabian government, can allow men to restrict women’s ability to travel, live in Saudi Arabia, or access government services. This app, which is available in the Google and Apple app stores, supports and enables the discriminatory male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia and violations of womens’ rights, including the right to leave and return to one’s own country. Because women in Saudi Arabia are required to have a male guardian, the Absher app allows men to give or deny permission for women to travel internationally or obtain a passport. Human Rights Watch has found that male guardians are able to use Absher to prevent women from traveling abroad for work or school, and that women may be limited in the jobs they can obtain as employers know that women need their male guardians’ permission to travel. Absher also gives greater control to men who sponsor foreign national spouses or children, as the app allows them to cancel their spouses’ or children’s’ residency visas and issue exist permits.

Writer: Human Rights Watch

Publication: Human Rights Watch