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The restrictions of Saudi life are so irksome that at least 1,000 Saudi Arabian women flee the country each year.

On family trips abroad, some jump ship. Some, having been sent to Western universities, postpone their return indefinitely. Others avail themselves of clandestine online services offering marriages of convenience to men willing to whisk them abroad.

To travel, work or study abroad, receive hospital treatment or an ID card, or even leave prison once a sentence is served, women need the consent of a guardian because they are treated as minors all their lives.

From birth to death, they are handed from one guardian to the next—father, husband and, if both of those die, the nearest male relative: a brother or even a teenage son, because boys are treated as adults from puberty.

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