Saudi Arabia to ‘liberate’ divorced women, widows from male dominion

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Saudi-women1Saudi Arabia will now let widows and divorced women take care of family affairs sans authorisation from a man or a court order, according to reports.

This measure was taken so as to shift legal powers from men to women, according to a state-run newspaper on 2 December.

Though Saudi Arabia under late King Abdullah had strived to give divorced women and widows a modicum of freedom, unfortunately, they largely remain restricted thanks to an active clergy and conservative society.

From now on, the Interior Ministry will issue family ID to men, divorcees and widows and empower them to access records, register children to schools and authorise medical procedures.

The Al Riyadh newspaper didn’t give a date as to when the move would be introduced. In a country where men treat women as servants, this modification will alter the lives of divorced or widowed women, especially those bringing up kids alone.

Until now, women had to seek the divorced husband’s permission or apply to courts to perform these basic activities. Around 65% of family cases are already clogging the judicial system. Women are not only barred from driving in Saudi Arabia, but also are the legal wards of a male ‘guardian’, either a father or husband or brother, who can decide for them.

Lifting legal powers from men over women was more important, than driving. It gives Saudi women the right to be the head of a family, put her children through school, get them married and the like,” said Salwa al-Hazza, a member of Shura Council, an appointed body that advises the government on policy.

Late King Abdullah had appointed 30 women to Shura Council in 2013, prompting the body to discuss issuing family ID cards to women, a debate that prompted the Interior Ministry’s decision, said Hazza.

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