Saudi government broadcaster cancels programme that tackled male guardianship laws
A Saudi state-run channel has cancelled a programme after it questioned the kingdom's strict male guardianship rules two weeks after it first aired.
The show had triggered a backlash from conservative minded Saudis and what appears to be an organised Twitter campaign calling for its cancellation last week.
The state-owned Saudi Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), Saudi Arabia's equivalent of the BBC, pulled the plug on the controversial "Dawood Show", Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on Sunday.
The political talk show was hosted by veteran journalist and SBC head Dawood al-Shirian.
"The programme aired six episodes that discussed topics such as fleeing women, working-class neighbourhoods and women driving schools," the report said.
The move comes after Shirian marginally criticised male guardianship laws, which allows male family members to make decisions for female relatives.
The talk show host had criticised aspects of the kingdom's controversial women-tracking app "Absher" for preventing elderly women from travelling with without male consent.
"The issue here that a 70-year-old woman whose husband has died is prevented from travelling without male consent. Just let the woman travel!" Shirian said.
The comments sparked a backlash from conservative commentators and pro-government trolls on Twitter who called for the show to be taken off the air.
This comes amid an increasingly intolerant climate in Saudi Arabia fostered by the rise of the authoritarian young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi guardianship law states that all females must have a male guardian, typically a father, brother, husband, uncle or son.
Women and girls are barred from travelling or carrying out official business without official permission from their male guardians.
The recent case of Saudi teenage runaway Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun drew global attention and sparked international criticism of Saudi restrictions on women.
Last month, the EU expressed concern over the "government web services" and called for an end to the male guardianship system that reduced women to second-class citizens.
Saudi Arabia, which permits no independent media, ranked 169 out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.