In a new breakthrough in women’s rights, Saudi men will no longer be able to divorce without the knowledge of their wives.
As of Sunday, courts will be required to notify women by text message that а marriage has ended.
The rule is aimed at ending the practice of Saudi men getting a divorce without informing their wives and hence denying the women their rights, such as alimony payments.
“Women… will be notified of any changes to their marital status via text message,” the justice ministry said in a statement carried by state-run Al-Ekhbariya news channel and other local media.
“Women in the kingdom will be able to view documents related to the termination of their marriage contracts through the ministry’s website,” the statement said.
“In most Arab countries, men can just divorce their wives,” Suad Abu-Dayyeh from global rights group, Equality Now, told Reuters.
“At least women will know whether they are divorced or not. It is a tiny step, but it is a step in the right direction.”
The change is the latest in a series of moves designed to give women in the Islamic kingdom more freedoms.
Just last year, women were given the right to drive. In recent years they have been allowed to attend public sports events, vote in local elections and take a greater part in the workforce.
But rights groups say all of those changes don’t matter until the kingdom changes it male guardianship policy, under which women are not allowed to marry, divorce, travel, work or even get some medical treatment without the permission of a man, usually a father, husband or son.
“The male guardianship system is a core issue and it must be dismantled. It controls women in each and every step of their lives. This system strangles Saudi women,” said Abu-Dayyeh.