Qatar is the only GCC country restricting female travel

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While the rest of the GCC countries are working to protect and empower women's rights, Qatar seems to lag behind. Now, Qatar is the only Gulf country still implementing male guardianship laws for female travel after Saudi Arabia lifted its restrictions on Friday.

According to the Qatari Ministry of Interior’s website, guardianship laws require females under the age of 25 to travel abroad with a male parent’s consent. These measures restrict women who may need to travel abroad out of necessity, for education, visiting a relative or for medical needs.  

Qatari men can – and do – apply to the courts in order to prevent their wives from traveling. 

“Married women are entitled to travel without permission irrespective of their age,” it states on the Qatari Ministry of Interior’s website. “In case the husband doesn’t want her to travel, he has to approach the competent court to prevent her journey.”

Furthermore, the Qatar official e-Government Portal Hukoomi’s instructions for citizens' passport renewal specify that only Qatari males over the age of 18 can apply for a passport on their own. It also states that those same people may apply for renewal on account of unmarried daughters, sisters and nieces. 

Neither Bahrain or the UAE implement guardian systems for female travelers, and Kuwaiti women gained the right to travel without a guardian’s approval back in 2009. 

According to Amnesty International, Qatar acceded to international human rights treaties concerning migrants and women, but included reservations that limit their effect. Thus, their legal developments for women’s rights in general are slow. 

The Qatari government, according to Amnesty, recently rejected Article 3 of their International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) on “the equal right of men and women in the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights.” 

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