Nope, no thank you, never, bye.
With sight of stonings and extreme punishments for basically equality, Saudi Arabia is not quite in my top five places to visit around the world.
With regards to women, specifically, the Kingdom knows and exercises little to no basic human rights and friends, we think we just found the most disgusting use of that fact.
Absher, an app recently created and used in Saudi Arabia, aids men in tracking the women in their lives, without their consent and it’s proving very controversial
Yup, ironic isn’t it? The technology of the future digitizing the barbaric nature of the past. So great for women everywhere. Love it.
The Government issued online service, allows male guardians (only male) to monitor the actions of ‘their’ women. The app contains a log of all the women in Saudi Arabia and can bar them travelling outside of the country and more specifically, can make sure that they do not leave without permission.
The app also gives more invasive accessibility to male guardians such as banning women from specific countries, destinations even airports and notifying them when their passports are being used with just a few buttons. Their permission is completely in their discretion and may use it at will.
All the guardians have to do is list out the women in their family and literally, that is all.
The Men then have access to all the information they could want regarding the women in their home. We tried downloading the app but a Government issued ID was needed in order to access it.
Absher was most recently in the news after Google refused to take it down following criticism that the app violated women’s rights
Google insists it will continue to make the Saudi government's Absher app available in its app store even though it's used by Saudi men to control the lives of Saudi women under the male guardianship system. https://t.co/9tsRekq918 pic.twitter.com/e46yFAhrYy
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) March 3, 2019
The excuse that the multi-million dollar company used was that the app did not violate any of the policies set by Google Play. This was quite shocking seeing as to how progressive and innovative the tech giant is. However, the company took the stance that the app aided many in being able to use it for day to day necessities such as paying for parking tickets or paying bills.
After much criticism and backlash from human rights associations around the world, Google has not yet removed the app nor said anything against their previous statement. Apple, on the other hand, has not given a single statement, considering the app lives on the Apple Store as well, this should be anticipated.
The app is clearly a violation of basic and fundamental human rights. It is unethical and unreasonable that a man or woman, for that fact, has the ability and technological capability to track and administer the travels or actions of their significant other or children.
The conversation on the app has picked up on social media and most people have been in shock that such an app exists, with its ability to treat women as objects of their male family members
— Fran Power (@FPower1) March 5, 2019
Remember when @google slogan was "Don't be evil"?
— Backyard Famous (@RasKanji) March 2, 2019
Propaganda alert: horrible anti-Saudi "documentary" called Kingdom of Secrets, which aired on CNN tonight and which consists of a pack of lies about women's issues, the Absher app, 9/11, etc.
— Irina Tsukerman (@sicat222) March 4, 2019
However surprisingly, many citizens of Saudi Arabia have been in favor of the app and are condemning the hate.
How about you do your research? Absher simplifies life! You can renew your license, renew your passport and so much more witha click of a button. It’s not about controlling women. A saudi woman married to a nonsaudi can essentially kick him out or prevent him from traveling!
— Sara (@EatPrayLove_KSA) February 27, 2019
I would never defend the guardianship system. I have heard, however, that women in Saudi Arabia have benefitted from Absher. It's something we should keep in mind. From my book, "Saudi, Inc.": pic.twitter.com/VyN6rKhBc4
— Ellen R. Wald Ph.D.🛢 (@EnergzdEconomy) March 3, 2019
Your concept of #Absher is flawed…
It is an app developed by the government…
It is an app that provides government services…
Wouldn’t it be contradictory if an app run by the #Saudi government, does not abide by its laws?! pic.twitter.com/QCBbLgdg7X
— ALI ALQAHTANI🇸🇦 (@L3_SAS) March 2, 2019
We are not properties & Absher is an improvement. I can update my ID card, passport and get travel permit for myself(I've done it)all online w/o having to pay a visit to MOI or having to ask Dad to do it for me! Not many ppl know that! All my sisters have the app, too!
— Afnan AlJaber (@AfnanAlJaber) February 26, 2019
Are you demented? I have ABSHER & use it. Does that mean I'm monitoring MYSELF?? Duuuuuuur🙄
— Adrianna Al-Harbi👤 (@F1rst0fHerName) March 2, 2019
However, this is the Internet so quite honestly, we don’t know if these opinions truly reflect those of the women in Saudi Arabia.^
According to Insider, a look at the service showed how the insanely invasive app was the only thing that could one desperate Saudi Woman escape from her controlling and abusive male guardian.
Shahad al-Mohaimeed used the information in the app and it’s tracking device to slow down her family from chasing after her she took her family’s devices.
According to the article, an average of 1,000 women try and flee Saudi Arabia each year. Services like Absher make their plans hard but in turn, since they are the strongest tools at their disposal, removal of them are an aid to this as well. Even if the women in Saudi were okay with their information and lives being so readily accessible, the app is a violation of basic human rights.
If their security fell in the hands of people not as well-intentioned as true parental guardians, the results could be disastrous and it would be solely the fault of the creators and perpetrators of this service.
It is 2019 and if a woman wants to leave the country, she should be fucking able to do it without a man telling her she needs his permission first.
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Cover photo source: Albwaba/Bloomberg