Apple, Google urged to drop woman tracking app

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Human rights groups and activists are urging Apple and Google to remove Absher from their app stores.

Men in Saudi Arabia have the right to the country’s guardianship laws which mandates every woman to have a male guardian to make critical decisions in their life on their behalf.

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Human rights groups are pressurizing tech companies Apple and Google to remove a particular app that helps men track down and control women. Groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, are urging Apple and Google to remove Absher from their app stores, reported Mashable. The app in question is a tracking app that is used by men to track and control women.

Absher, an app created by the Saudi government features tracking and monitoring abilities which are used by the men to control their women who are under their guardianship, which include their wives and unmarried daughters.

Men in Saudi Arabia have the right to the country’s guardianship laws which mandates every woman to have a male guardian to make critical decisions in their life on their behalf. The guardian could be either her husband, father, brother or son. This app permits men to approve, allow or control things such as passport applications, studying abroad, travelling out of the country or even get married. The system was already in place before the app was announced, but the app is now making controlling the women even more efficient.

Absher was launched in 2015.

Mashable also reported that a woman, who was seeking asylum, stated that she was trying to flee the country without being tracked by the app. If any woman needs to travel, she has to be granted permission through the app. Most women cannot get as far as the guardian is always alerted every time they make a travel attempt.

While human rights groups have urged the two companies to ban the said app, columnist Mona Eltahawy stated that the app removal will not eliminate the main problem against women. She said that banning the app is not the solution and ending male guardianship is required. However, activists say that the banning through Apple and Google would send a strong signal to the Saudi government.

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