Saudi university allows women to freely leave campus

Taif University lifts consent rule for female students in wake of royal decree

February 7, 2018

Female students at a university in Saudi Arabia will no longer need permission from their parents to leave the campus.

Taif University said that it was not within its authority to restrict people’s movement, according to a report in Arab News.

The university’s Twitter account said that the change has come as a result of a royal decree that asks governmental agencies not to require consent from a woman’s guardian when they receive services such as health and education unless there was a legal basis to do so.

Administrators of the institution, established in 2004, added that because it was a public facility that provided services to citizens it was not within its authority to restrict people’s movement or freedom at the university.

Nujood Al-Qasem, a lawyer in the country, said that the decision was “a bold step” and could have “a positive impact by spreading a spirit of confidence and freedom and self-reliance among female students”.

“It will facilitate their lives and they will be able to easily practise their other duties and not worry about attending their lectures when there are other necessary commitments in their lives,” she told Arab News.

“On the other hand, it also may result in negative feedback, and cultural, moral and religious awareness is needed so that this step is not going to be used in the wrong way.” 

The Saudi government has been gradually easing restrictions on women’s rights. Last year, it announced that it would allow women to drive from June 2018, while last month women were allowed into a football stadium to watch a match for the first time.

holly.else@timeshighereducation.com

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