[ti:Saudi Arabia Permits Women to Travel Without Male Approval]
[00:00.04]Saudi Arabia says it will soon permit all citizens age 21 and older – including women – to travel by choice and independently.
[00:14.48]The changes are part of a set of new laws published Friday.
[00:20.44]They are set to go into effect later this month.
[00:25.84]They end a long-standing guardianship policy that had restricted women's freedom of movement.
[00:34.80]The country's legal system treats adult women as minors.
[00:40.72]It requires women to seek permission from male relatives to do many things, including traveling.
[00:50.72]A woman's guardian might be her father, husband or even her own son.
[00:58.52]The new rules, approved by King Salman and his cabinet, also permit any adult citizen to apply for a Saudi passport on their own.
[01:12.12]Women had needed male permission to do so.
[01:17.04]Many Saudis celebrated the changes.
[01:20.56]Some published memes showing people running to the airport with their belongings.
[01:27.44]Others praised Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, who is believed to be the force behind the new laws.
[01:36.60]But more conservative Saudis criticized the changes.
[01:41.56]On social media, they shared already published videos of top Saudi leaders arguing in favor of guardianship laws.
[01:52.92]Other changes published Friday permit women to register a marriage or its ending, and a child's birth.
[02:02.20]The new rules also protect women from discrimination in the workplace and give them the right to open and run a business.
[02:12.72]There are still rules in place that require a male relative's permission for a woman to leave prison, leave a domestic abuse shelter or marry.
[02:24.68]Women, unlike men, still cannot pass on their citizenship to their children and cannot give permission for their children to marry.
[02:36.52]For years, state-supported religious leaders told the Saudi public that women should not travel for more than one night alone.
[02:46.64]They argued this was a traditional Islamic rule.
[02:51.16]Other Muslim countries, however, do not have similar restrictions on women's travel.
[02:58.16]Saudi leaders have said the Islamic holy book states that men are the protectors and keepers of women.
[03:07.04]Other Islamic experts argue this ignores important Islamic ideas such as equality and respect between the sexes.
[03:17.24]I'm Ashley Thompson. 更多聽力請訪問51VOA.COM