'End male guardianship rules', Qatar urged

·1-min read

Qatar's male guardianship rules are limiting women's ability to make key decisions on basic rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says, urging the state to eliminate the system.

In a new report analysing male guardianship rules and practices in Qatar, HRW found that women must obtain permission from their male guardians to: marry, regardless of their age; study abroad on government scholarships; work in many government jobs; travel abroad until certain ages; and receive some forms of reproductive health care.

Women cannot be primary guardians of their own children at any time.

"By enforcing male guardianship rules, Qatar is failing women and now falling behind neighbouring countries when they were once in some instances leading the way," Rothna Begum, senior women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

"Qatar should remove all discriminatory rules against women, publicise these changes, pass anti-discrimination legislation, and ensure that women have the civic space to demand their rights," she added.

Nayla, a 24-year-old Qatari teacher, said that in 2019 she had to get a letter of consent from her father stating he did not mind her working at the Education Ministry.

Many women told HRW the rules have taken a heavy toll on their ability to lead independent lives, while some said they affected their mental health.

The government disputed some of the findings and told HRW women can obtain passports for their children and do not need guardian permission to accept a scholarship or work at government institutions.