The ultimate stalking tool for Saudi men: Google and Apple are offering an app in Saudi Arabia to assist men track the whereabouts of their wives, daughters, nieces, and employees. The app, called Absher, was created by the Saudi National Information Center, which is a project of the Saudi Ministry of Interior for the country’s guardianship system that requires women to get permission from a husband, brother, uncle or other male guardian to engage in such basic things as obtaining a passport, traveling, getting married or divorced, and obtaining medical treatment.
The description of the app in Google and Apple stores says, "you [men] can safely browse your profile or your family members, or [laborers] working for you, and perform a wide range of eServices online."
In the past, Saudi women have needed paper forms signed by their male guardian to travel, but the Absher app makes the process more convenient for Saudi men and even more intrusive for Saudi women. The app provides men real-time text message alerts when women under their control try to leave or enter the country to prevent these women from leaving the country without explicit permission, reinforcing the sexist Saudi guardianship system. It’s demeaning, patronizing and abusive to Saudi women.
Human Rights Watch has called on Apple and Google to either remove the app entirely from their stores or disable the features of the app that enable men to track women. Senator Ron Wyden has penned a letter to Apple and Google asking them to remove the app, stating, "it is hardly news that the Saudi monarchy seeks to restrict and repress Saudi women, but American companies should not enable or facilitate the Saudi government's patriarchy."
Add your name to our letter to Google and Apple demanding that they stop facilitating the Saudi repression of women. Tell them to remove the Absher app from their stores.
Dear Google and Apple,
It is urgent that you remove the Absher from your app stores. This Saudi app assists Saudi men in tracking the whereabouts of their wives, daughters, nieces, and employees. The app reinforces Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system that requires women to have permission from a husband, brother, uncle or other male guardian in order to engage in such basic things as obtaining a passport, traveling, getting married or divorced, and obtaining medical treatment.
Human Rights Watch, Senator Ron Wyden, and numerous others have called on you to remove the app as it facilitates the Saudi government's repression of women.
The Absher app aids in extreme violations of women’s right and freedoms and should be considered “inappropriate content”. It is urgent you remove it.