Wife-tracking apps are one sign of Saudi Arabia’s vile regime


Credit where it’s due. The Saudi Absher app, just described as “inhuman” by two clearly terrified Saudi refugees, also has some fabulous user reviews on its supplier websites, Apple and Google Play.

To read the surge of five-star tributes placed after the app’s invaluable contribution to human enslavement was widely exposed earlier in the year is to understand that, aside from adding value to Apple and Google, Absher is a boon to harassed owners of subordinate women, at a time when more and more of this human property is, reportedly, becoming fractious.

How, even with support from the religious police and fellow patriarchs, did busy men ever juggle endless personal admin with the nonstop supervision of potentially difficult wives, sisters, daughters and servants?

Now, with surveillance at their fingertips, it’s goodbye to disobedience.

“Nobody outside Saudi Arabia could imagine where we were before Absher!” writes one reviewer, awarding five stars.

Other reviewers maintain that anything its critics have heard about tracking women on Absher is “all lies” and emphasise, lest anyone stumble across the evidence that woman-controlling is exactly what one section of the app is for, that foreigners don’t understand.

“Those who are not from our country shouldn’t have the right to review this app since they have no idea what it is,” writes an Abdulkarim Khormi.

So it helps that runaway Saudi women such as the vulnerable al-Subaie sisters, Maha and Wafa, now seeking asylum from a hotel room in Georgia, and the earlier escapee Shahad al-Mohaimeed are also sufficiently familiar with digitised monitoring to be able to give outsiders some idea of what happens when big tech companies supply the tools to update sexual apartheid for the 21st century.

The Absher app has a section where men can, it appears with minimal effort, award or withdraw permission for their women or workers to travel abroad, cancel their tickets and register for SMS updates if unauthorised escape is attempted.

“It gives men control over women,” protests Wafa al-Subaie. Continue reading

Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: ,