Google and Apple must drop Absher from stores

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day 2019, The New York Times published a story on Feb. 13 that shared some insight into an app that males in Saudi Arabia use to track and enslave females.

According to that article, “Saudi ‘guardianship laws give women a legal status similar to that of minors in many areas of their lives. Every Saudi woman, regardless of age, has a male ‘guardian,’ usually her father or husband, but sometimes her brother or son, who must give his permission for her to get a passport, have certain medical procedures or get married.”

They use an app to do this now. It’s called Absher, which means, “Yes sir.”

Through the app, males can restrict or allow females’ travel and destinations. A big theme in the Times article was that the ap is available for download in the Google Play Store and Apple. Because of this, these companies are being pressured to drop the app in order to not be complicit  with the male suppression of women.

One Facebook user commented on the article, “I do not agree. The issue here is the male guardianship system which must be abolished, not the app in itself. The sudden outcry (the app has been around for at least 4 years) is not going to help Saudi women at all. The paper system was far more controlling and impossible to get around. By calling for the Absher app to be abolished you are depriving those clever women who were brave enough to surreptitiously use the app’s weakness (by secretly changing the number to which text notifications were sent for example) to flee. This campaign is wrong and its consequences are going to hurt Saudi women more than it will help.”

While this citizen has a point (male guardianship should indeed be abolished everywhere since it disqualifies women’s humanity and forbids them from functioning as individual adults), this comment assumes that the problem will be solved while the app is still in use.

Some women have been able to get around the controlling functions of the app by using its own technology against it, such as the Times’ example of a woman secretly accessing her dad’s phone and giving herself permission through Absher to leave the country. However, no woman should have to live like this, and as long as this function of the app is in place, women will be forced to resort to covert operations like this merely to exercise the freedom to move about as they please— a freedom no adult should need permission for.

Though the Times reported that the app has other features (such as letting both women and men utilize certain government programs), as long as it has the features that allow males to maintain slavemaster-like control over the women in their lives, women cannot achieve freedom in this country.

Apple and Google should no longer allow this app in their stores. By continuing to offer it, these American companies are in compliance with the male guardianship system and with male suppression of women everywhere.