An application has been created by authorities in Saudi Arabia to allow male guardians to track their female family members.
Hosted by US technology giants Apple and Google no less, the app has been designed to prevent women leaving the country following the recent surge in those trying to flee the kingdom.
Called Absher meaning “Good Tidings” in Arabic, the app allows men to obtain or revoke their authorization with a few clicks.
Press TV reports: Through Absher, men can perform several tasks, such as paying parking fines, renewing driving license, and granting travel permissions to their female “dependents,” such as wives, daughters and sisters.
It is equipped to give a comprehensive readout of each journey a registered woman has made. Her male guardian can anytime access his own travel logs along with those of children and women in the family.
The app also gives men the ability to receive SMS alerts, when one of their female family members shows their passport at the border or at an airport.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior sends the message directly through the application.
According to a report by investigate website the Insider, Saudi women seeking asylum overseas had to resort to stealing their male guardians’ phones to disable the app or to secretly give themselves permission to travel before fleeing the country.
Other women have already tried to change the alert phone number so that tracking SMSs are sent to them rather than their guardians.
American giant technology companies Apple and Google have come under fierce criticism for hosting the application, and have been accused of helping “enforce gender apartheid” as the app is available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.’
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and women’s rights groups have called on the technology giants to reconsider hosting the app.
“Apple and Google have rules against apps that facilitate threats and harassment. Apps like this one can facilitate human rights abuses, including discrimination against women,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Saudi law states it is essential for all women to have a legal male “guardian,” usually a father or husband, who can “watch over” their movements and daily routines.