RELIGION

Report: Saudi women's lives dictated by male guardianship

  • FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 11, 2015 photo, Saudi women shop at a mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A new study by Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system is the most significant impediment to realizing women’s rights in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 11, 2015 photo, Saudi women shop at a mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A new study by Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system is the most significant impediment to realizing women’s rights in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 photo, a journalist takes photos at a palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A new study by Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system is the most significant impediment to realizing women’s rights in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

    FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 photo, a journalist takes photos at a palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A new study by Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system is the most significant impediment to realizing women’s rights in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, file photo, a Saudi woman waits outside a polling center as she prepares to cast her ballot during the country's municipal elections in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A new study by Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system is the most significant impediment to realizing women’s rights in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

    FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, file photo, a Saudi woman waits outside a polling center as she prepares to cast her ballot during the country's municipal elections in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A new study by Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system is the most significant impediment to realizing women’s rights in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)  (The Associated Press)

A new study by Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system is the most significant impediment to realizing women's rights in the kingdom.

The system effectively renders adult women as legal minors, preventing them from traveling abroad, obtaining a passport, marrying or leaving prison without the consent of a male relative. In some cases, employers will not hire women and hospitals will not perform surgeries without permission from male relatives.

Despite numerous reforms in recent years, including granting women the right to run and vote in local elections, the report released on Sunday finds that a woman's life in Saudi Arabia rests largely on "the good will" of her male guardian — often a father, husband or brother, and in some cases a woman's son.