Tuesday, July 23, 2019
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Apple and Google are supposed to file a Saudi Arabian app that allows men to track women

BEIRUT, Lebanon – A Saudi mobile application that allows men to track and limit the movements of women in the Kingdom was increasingly criticized this week. An American senator and ruling group called on Apple and Google to remove them from their platforms and accuse the technology giants of facilitating gender-based discrimination.

Saudi's guardianship laws give women legal status in many areas of their lives that is similar to that of minors. Every Saudi woman, regardless of age, has a male guardian, usually her father or husband, but sometimes her brother or son, who needs permission to obtain a passport, to receive or marry certain medical procedures.

The app in question Absher was launched in 2015 by the Saudi government. It allows men to handle women under their guardianship by revoking or revoking their right to visit airports with their national identity cards or passports. The men can activate notifications that they notify by SMS when a woman passes through an airport under her guardianship.

Absher, roughly translated as "Yes, Sir", can be downloaded from both the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. According to critics, tech companies are complicit in the merits of Saudi Arabian women.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have long campaigned for the abrogation of guardianship laws, but the goal of Absher and its availability on Western technology platforms is new.

Hala Aldosary, a Saudi Arabian scholar and activist from the United States, said the removal of the app by Apple and Google could send an important message to leaders such as Prince Mohammed, who seek partnerships with global tech companies to improve them economies.

"If the technology companies would say, 'They are oppressive,' that would mean a lot," said Ms. Aldosary.

But removing the app would not eliminate the guardianship laws of the country, she said. Men could still change the status of their female relatives online or in government offices.

"The app is a means to an end, but it's not the end," she said. "But it makes life easier for the guards."

When I was asked for Absher In an interview with National Public Radio on Monday, Mr. Cook said Apple had not heard of it.

"But of course we'll look at it if that's the case," he said.

However, both companies have responded to similar app removal campaigns.

In December, Apple removed a religious app from its online store that portrayed gays as "disease" and "sin" after a group of gay rights protests, NBC News reported.

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