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For the First time, Saudi Arabia to Introduce Physical Education Programs in Girls’ Schools

In Saudi Arabia, women cannot drive or travel outside the country without a family member or guardian, which greatly limit their participation in social life and in the public sphere

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Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Wikimedia

Riyadh, July 12, 2017: The Saudi Arabian minister of education decided on Tuesday to start a physical education program in girls’ schools for the first time in Saudi Arabia, starting in the next school year.

In a statement published by the Saudi Press, Ahmed Al-Eissa said that the programme is designed according to the rules of sharia (Islamic law) and will be applied gradually according to the logistics of each school, until facilities in schools are prepared to accommodate such a programme.

The ministerial decision also includes the formation of a committee to oversee the program and work with universities to prepare women specialists who will contribute to the introduction of the innovative plan.

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In the ultra-conservative country, these types of classes were banned until in 2013 the ministry of education announced that it was developing this program and training 9,000 physical education teachers.

In recent months, local NGOs have pressured the authorities to start the program as soon as possible, as the rate of obesity among women has reached 62 percent.

In Saudi Arabia, women cannot drive or travel outside the country without a family member or guardian, among other restrictions that greatly limit their participation in social life and in the public sphere. (IANS)

 

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Tech Giant Google Refuses to Remove Controversial Saudi App

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have also criticised Google and Apple for allowing the app on their platforms

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

Google has refused to pull out a controversial government app from Saudi Arabia which lets men track and control women who travel, saying it does not violate its Play Store policies.

According to a report in the Business Insider on Sunday, the tech giant told the office of California Democrat Representative Jackie Speier, who had called for the removal of the app called “Absher”, that the app does not violate its terms of service.

The US Representatives Speier, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and 11 others have demanded that Apple and Google must both remove the app.

Speier called Google’s response “deeply unsatisfactory”.

“The responses received so far from Apple and Google are deeply unsatisfactory. As of today, the Absher app remains available in both the Apple App store and the Google Play Store even though they can easily remove it,” Speier was quoted as saying.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California.

Apple was yet to announce its decision.

Absher allows Saudi users to access government services and also offers features which allow “Saudi men to grant and rescind travel permission for women and to set up SMS alerts for when women use their passports”.

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An earlier report suggested Saudi men could use the app to control female dependents.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have also criticised Google and Apple for allowing the app on their platforms. (IANS)