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Saudi Arabia eases travel restrictions on women

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday began implementing a “reform” allowing women over the age of 21 to receive passports and travel abroad without permission from a male guardian, authorities said.

“The passport department has started receiving applications for women aged 21 and above to issue or renew passports and to travel outside the kingdom without permission,” the department said on Twitter.

Women in the kingdom have long required permission from their male guardians — husband, father and other male relatives — for these tasks.

In other changes unveiled earlier this month, Saudi women were also granted the right to officially register childbirth, marriage or divorce and to be recognized as a guardian to children who are minors –- same as men.

The reform comes as the OPEC petroleum producer reels from low oil prices and seeks to boost employment opportunities for women –- currently facing chronic joblessness.

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