HRW’s Minky Worden writes about the infamous text messages:
The yellow-slip system was both discriminatory and cumbersome. But all the text-message system does is to use modern technology to enforce a retrograde double standard that denies women control over their own travel.
A tiny bright spot in this sad situation is that Internet-based communication is also giving a voice to Saudi women to demand equal treatment. Manal al-Sharif pointed out this month that “the small fact of the SMS story gives you the idea of the bigger problem with the whole guardianship system.”
It is jarring to see a government use the latest digital technology to enforce medieval treatment of women. One hopes at least that digital technology can increasingly give voice to courageous women fighting for equality, and for their supporters outside Saudi Arabia to press for structural reform of the kingdom’s backward policies.