Human rights groups and the U.S. senator have been putting pressure on Google and Apple to remove the app called Absher from their stores. Apparently, the app was created by the Saudi government in order for men to be able to monitor and control their wives and unmarried daughters.
Thanks to the country’s oppressive guardianship laws, every woman must have a male guardian to make life decisions on her behalf, so Saudi men have this right. Men have the power to approve things like whether a woman will apply for a passport, she studies abroad, gets married, or travels outside the country. The app that’s on the store makes this more efficient for Saudi men.
The app was released in 2015, and it prompted new scrutiny in the country.
One woman recently indicated that she tried to flee the country without being detected by her male guardian, but women must be granted permission through the app. According to Insider, the app alerts the guardians every time their dependents use their passports.
Senator Ron Wyden and human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are now urging Apple and Google to remove Absher from their app stores.
Wyden wrote a letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai in which he informed them that by permitting the app in their stores, their companies are making it easier for Saudi men to control their family members and restrict their movements from the convenience of their phones.
Cook replied that he hadn’t heard about it, but they’ll take a look at it if that’s the case.
Google stated that they would be “looking into it”.
However, even if the companies remove the app from their stores, the problem of male guardianship will not be solved.
Nevertheless, activists still believe that Google and Apple could send a powerful message to the Saudi government by dropping the app.