Saudi women get texts to tell them of divorce


The Saudi courts started to send such notifications Sunday in "a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing digital transformation with more services", the country's Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

For example, if a Saudi woman wants to travel overseas, open a bank account or start certain types of businesses, she must get the permission of a male "guardian"-which could be a husband, father, son or brother, the BBC reported".

Divorce is generally easier, at least for men, in traditional Muslim societies than in western ones but in Saudi Arabia the practice has been taken to extremes.

Local female lawyers suggest the ruling will end what are called secret divorces, where men divorce their wives without telling them.

Saudi lawyer Nisreen al-Ghamdi told Bloomberg, "The new measure ensures women get their [alimony] rights when they're divorced", further adding, "It also ensures that any powers of attorney issued before the divorce are not misused". Also, her testimony before a divorce court will only be worth half that of her husband's.

The move comes as de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman spearheads a so-called liberalization drive in the conservative kingdom, which has some of the world's toughest restrictions on women.

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It is hoped that the changes to the law will mean that women are no longer be kept in the dark about their marital status.

For example, permission to marry must be granted by a guardian otherwise it won't be recognised by a Saudi court.

The guardianship system has helped create one of the most gender unequal countries in the Middle East.

The Saudi government has denied bin Salman's involvement in the killing.

Other recent reforms in the kingdom include women being allowed to attend football matches and work in jobs traditionally reserved for men. "This system strangles Saudi women", said Abu-Dayyeh.