Saudi women to get divorce notification by text message


Guardianship laws are legal codes based on a strict interpretation of Shariah law that ensure women in Saudi Arabia remain a legal dependent.

'The new measure ensures women get their [alimony] rights when they're divorced, ' Saudi lawyer Nisreen al-Ghamdi told Bloomberg.

Women in Saudi Arabia will be notified by text message if they are divorced under a new law created to protect them from having their marriage ended without their knowledge, the government said on Sunday.

The new regulations could help mitigate the problem of so-called "secret divorces", a phrase used to describe the phenomenon of men ending their marriage without informing their wives.

Last September, Saudi King Salman decreed an end to the world's only ban on women drivers, maintained for decades by Saudi Arabia's deeply conservative Muslim establishment.

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Past year a decades-old driving ban on women was reversed, meaning that a Saudi female can now drive down the street while simultaneously receiving a text notification that her husband has left her.

It said women could check their marital status on the ministry's website or visit the relevant court to get a copy of divorce papers.

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. Previously, a Saudi woman was required to petition courts, sometimes for years, to win custody of children after a divorce.

The country also faces criticism over its male guardianship system, which allows men to exercise arbitrary authority to make decisions on behalf of their female relatives.

Despite the new ruling, Saudi women are still unable to do many things such apply for passports, travel overseas, get married and open a bank account without approval from a male guardian, who customarily is her husband, father, brother or son.