New laws allow Saudi women to travel overseas without man's permission

Saudi Arabia institutes new rights for women
Saudi Arabia institutes new rights for women 01:34

Major change is arriving in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom grants new rights to women. New laws that went into effect Friday allow women to apply for a passport and travel without permission from a male relative.

CBS News' Holly Williams reports that Saudi women still live under the so-called male guardianship system that says they need permission from a male relative, either their father, husband, brother or son, to make key decisions about their lives. But the powers of male guardians are gradually being stripped away, now including their right to dictate whether women can travel overseas.

This follows a string of high profile cases where Saudi women ran away from their families, somehow escaped overseas, and then sought asylum. Those cases have been very embarrassing for the Saudi authorities.

But, Williams reports, Saudi Arabia is still a long way from being a free country. There are several women's rights activists in prison in Saudi Arabia and there are accusations they've been tortured. And the leader behind these changes, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is widely suspected of involvement in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi was a journalist and Saudi government critic, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.