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It's high time to hold Saudi Arabia to account on women's rights

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Today, Saudi Arabia once again committed to abolishing the male guardianship system.

In a statement before the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, the Saudi authorities responded to the recommendations made as part of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November 2018. Among the recommendations accepted by the state were those of 18 countries calling for the abolition of the male guardianship system.

This marked the second time in six years that Saudi Arabia has made such a pledge before the HRC. What is needed now is increased international pressure to ensure that these are not just hollow words.

Under the male guardianship system, women are legal minors and need the permission of a male relative in order to travel, obtain passports, get married, work, and study abroad, among other restrictions. The system was thrown into the spotlight recently when teenager Rahaf Mohammed fled the country due to alleged abuse from her family. In Saudi Arabia, many women and girls remain trapped in abusive environments, unable to seek protection without the consent of a male relative.

Loujain al-Hathloul was in the process of setting up a domestic abuse shelter at the time of her arrest by the Saudi authorities in May 2018. A passionate defender of........

© Al Jazeera