Surprise, you're divorced: New law will see Saudi women notified via text

Starting from Sunday courts will be required to notify women by text on rulings confirming their divorces

Starting from Sunday courts will be required to notify women by text on rulings confirming their divorces

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Justice has announced that, as of Sunday, women will receive text message notification from the court when their marital status changes. In these cases, often referred to as secret divorces, women often end up missing out on alimony payments.

The adoption of the text message system is seen as the latest in a series of shifts created to give women more freedoms. Throughout the divorce proceedings, the husband remains the wife's guardian. "It also ensures that any powers of attorney issued before the divorce are not misused". You may also view all documents about a termination of their marriage on the website of the Ministry.

In a statement to the network, the Saudi Ministry of Justice tried to portray the decision as "a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing digital transformation with more services".

The new law comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has started to give women more rights in the conservative kingdom, which included lifting a ban on women driving past year.

Last year, a decades-old driving ban on women was lifted in Saudi Arabia.

While bin Salman has been promoted as a reformer who gave Saudi women the right to drive this summer through his Vision 2030 initiative, he is also suspected of plotting the likely murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who disappeared in October after entering the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

Restrictions on women's employment, long ruled by the guardianship system, have been loosened as Saudi Arabia tries to wean itself off its economic dependency on oil.

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

"Saudi women fleeing their families can face severe violence from relatives, deprivation of liberty, and other serious harm if returned against their will", Michael Page, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, told The Times.

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

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