It's one step forward and two steps back for women's rights around the world. Just a few weeks back, Nepal was in the news for proposing a new law wherein women under 40 would need permission from the local government and her family (read, male member) to travel abroad.
Now we hear that Gaza&rsquos Supreme Judicial Council has allowed male 'guardians' to place restrictions on an unmarried woman&rsquos travel.
The movement of millions of Palestinians in Gaza and Egypt is already restricted by the Israeli authorities, who often seal borders to prohibit travelling from the territory.
Although authorities amended the notice on February 16 after receiving heavy criticism, it is still viewed as discriminatory. A male guardian (a close male relative including a father, brother, or grandfather) can prevent unmarried women from travelling if they think that the travel will cause &lsquoabsolute harm.&rsquo
Furthermore, the notice permits family members, including parents and the paternal grandfather, to seek travel bans on women. This would enable them to restrict their adult children and grandchildren from travelling.
Such gender-related restrictions can have a discriminatory impact. Due to cultural and social norms, families may want to restrict women&rsquos movement more than men. If turned into a law, the notice will allow such travel bans.
According to reports, the Head of the Supreme Judicial Council, Hassan al-Jojo, justified the regressive measure saying that there have been past instances in which girls have travelled without the knowledge of their parents (cue eyeroll here).
Palestinian human rights organisations have criticised the latest notice as it violates the Palestinian Basic Law. The law guarantees the right of citizens to move and travel. Moreover, international human rights law protects individuals&rsquo right to leave their country without discrimination.