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The eminent abolition of the Male Guardianship

By: Terry Ahtziry Cardenas Banda, attorney, law professor, social activist, and philanthropist.

In this most recent edition, we celebrate successful women in our region, who, with their determination and work, show us the abilities that women have, who, regardless of their gender, have great skills to contribute to the benefit of the community. Capturing that beauty, straightness, and effort, I applaud the achievements that so many women in our community have achieved, through which greater rights and opportunities for women are achieved.

Nowadays Mexico has laws that allow women to celebrate any legal action, there are no limitations due to gender, in practice, another reality is experienced when demanding the rights embodied in our regulations. I believe that we have sufficient tools to attack actions that violate women’s rights in our country, but we lack effective means of compliance and protection of the rules. However, I will discuss this point at another time.

Today I want to share with you the reality that other women live around the world, particularly in Saudi Arabia, as I mentioned legally in Mexico women are free and capable of being able to carry out the activities and legal acts they want, however, on the other side of the world there are women who do not have these rights, the social and legal norms of their country limits their capacities, rights, and freedoms.

Why do I talk about aspects that happen on the other side of the world? It is important not only to learn about other cultures to enrich ourselves as people but also to know the different legal systems around the world since acts that are valid in another country in the strict sense could also be valid in ours.

Master Hala Al-Dosari in her research on the situation of women in Saudi Arabia emphasizes the importance of changing social and legal norms to prevent violence and harm against women. In Saudi Arabia, there is a male guardianship system, which is made up of public and social policies that allow men to have wide authority over the women and children of their families. For example, a woman needs the permission of her guardian, who can be her father, her brother, or even her son, in order to get married, travel, or get a passport.

Close-up of multi-ethnic group of protesters with arm-crossing gesture on public demonstrations.

To the law of Saudi Arabia, women do not have the legal capacity, it is conditioned by a man, who will make decisions for her for everything, if she has any problem she must go to her guardian who must always be a man, and for a married woman, this guardian would be her husband. Therefore, women who suffer from violence at home are tied to that life of violence by this figure of male guardianship, since to carry out any activity they need the permission of their husbands in most cases or of any other male figure. For example, if a woman denounces her husband who mistreats her, who is also her guardian, it becomes a vicious and harmful circle for the woman, since the one who will respond to her aid In front of the authority will be the guardian who is the same actor who violates her rights.

“Being born a woman in Saudi Arabia means being born with fewer rights than men for the mere fact of being a woman. Being born a woman in Saudi Arabia means living under a system of male “guardianship” that controls and limits her freedom and personal autonomy. A woman cannot make decisions on her own, but it is a male relative who decides on her behalf.” -Vega Alonso del Val, Amnesty International collaborator

However, the women of Saudi Arabia are speaking up to abolish this figure that threatens her fundamental human right of freedom. Likewise, the international community has sent reports to the government of Saudi Arabia repressing that the country’s public policies limit the ability of women to escape or report violence, especially through male guardianship. The support that the international community provides to these movements has been extremely relevant.

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