Two runaway Saudi sisters on Wednesday urged Apple and Google to pull an "inhuman" app allowing men to monitor and control female relatives' travel as it helps trap girls in abusive families. Maha and Wafa al-Subaie, who are seeking asylum in Georgia after fleeing their family, said Absher – a government e-services app – was bad for women as it supported Saudi Arabia's strict male guardian system. "It gives men control over women," said Wafa, 25. "They have to remove it," she added, referring to Google and Apple. We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view.
Saudi Arabia continues to hold more than a dozen women rights activists in jail, months after a crackdown on dissent intensified in May. Most of them campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom's male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions. In 1990, more than 40 women drove their cars in the capital Riyadh, the first public demonstration against the ban, which is now lifted. They also called for the abolishment of the male guardianship system. Since then, other similar protests have been held, and the government initiated a crackdown on rights activists this year.
A mixture of excitement and fear has enveloped the religiously conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it awaits the lifting of a decades-long ban on women driving on June 24. In only three days the Saudi kingdom, which has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, will see women driving side-by-side as their male counterparts for the first time. In a statementon Twitter, the ministry of information announced that educational events will be held in Riyadh, Damam, Jeddah and Tabuk during the evening hours of the next three days to "introduce women to road safety regulations and help break the barrier of fear". The events will depend on electronic simulators, educational stations and competitions to help "familiarise women with the techniques of using a car," the statement said. The ministry hopes the activities it has set up will help "instill the principle of safety first" and "showcase [to female motorists] the importance of using seat belts", according to the statement.