Saudi Gazette reports that Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights is calling for the end of the mahram (guardian) requirement for female students studying abroad. Not only does the requirement add additional expense to the program, but it’s sometimes just impossible for a father/brother/uncle to leave a job solely in order to supervise a female family member.
The current guardianship program also continues the belief that women are incapable of acting morally without a male to keep them on the straight and narrow. We know, from decades of media reports, that the males don’t do a very good job of supervising their own activities. Why should they be expected to do better when they’re asked to watch over their female relatives?
Drop mahram rule for scholarship students: NSHR member
Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — A member of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has urged the Ministry of Higher Education to review a condition that states a male guardian must accompany women scholarship students abroad.
Dr. Suhaila Zainul Abideen said the condition was “unpractical and would deprive women of their right to continue higher education,” according to Al-Hayat newspaper.
The eighth condition for sending girls abroad under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program is that a mahram (male guardian) must accompany her during her travel and stay in the host country until the completion of her studies.
However, said Abideen, there are some girls who do not have a mahram.
“In the cases of those who have a mahram, their fathers or brothers are often not in a position to accompany their daughters or sisters because it would mean abandoning their jobs or other obligations.