Passport Department’s SMS notifications on traveling dependents criticized



JEDDAH: MARWA HADDAD

Published — Sunday 2 December 2012

Last update 1 December 2012 11:46 pm

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Many people have expressed reservations on Twitter about the Passports Department sending a text message to the male guardian of a woman when she leaves the country. Several fathers and husbands were surprised, especially as many of them were traveling with their wives and daughters, to receive this notification.
Passports Department spokesman Col. Badr Al-Malik said receiving these messages is optional. When citizens update their information in the department’s Absher electronic system, they can choose if they want a notification. It is not aimed at linking the women’s movements to their male guardians. “It is rather a service to the community and one of Absher System’s electronic services.
Absher services include notifying a citizen about all department procedures related to his Civil Registry, like passport expiry, workers’ visas and others,” said Al-Malik.
Abdullah Al-Muwallad, Civil Status Department official, said the department is applying the Electronic Government System. This entails notifying citizens through a text message about certain procedures.
These include the issuance of a national ID and the departure (leaving the country) of any of the family members registered in the citizen’s Civil Registry.
Samia Al-Amoudi, a professor at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz University, who commented on the issue on Twitter, said she objects to the procedure because such messages are insulting. “A woman is not a minor,” she said.
Luai, founder of Lumar company, said he received a message that his wife Muna had departed from King Abdulaziz International Airport as soon as the passport department’s official stamped his and his wife’s passports.
He thought the procedure limits the freedom of women. Dalal Samir, a housewife, said her daughter traveled with her husband. The father (Dalal’s husband) received a notification. “We became worried and could not rest until they arrived at their destination and called us.”

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