Saudi Arabia: Women will get text messages to confirm if they're divorced


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

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.

The measure approved by the justice ministry appears aimed at curbing seemingly rampant cases of men secretly ending marriages without informing their wives.

Saudi Justice Minister Sheikh Waleed bin Mohammed al Samaani said that by notifying women of the change to their legal status, the text message system would bring transparency to the legal proceedings around divorce. "It is a tiny step, but it is a step in the right direction", she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Among the reforms, Saudi women were given the right to drive for the first time in decades last June and they are now also allowed to enter sports stadiums.

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However, the country's de facto ruler-33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman-has vowed to return the country to a more "moderate" form of Islam through a number of liberalizing economic and social reforms, of which the latest regulations relating to divorce form a part of. In these cases, often referred to as secret divorces, women often end up missing out on alimony payments.

Nevertheless, women will continue to be under male guardianship laws. It controls women in each and every step of their lives.

But in tandem with the reforms, the kingdom has seen a wave of arrests of women activists in recent months as it steps up a crackdown on dissent.

The ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is known for being one of the most restrictive countries in the world for women. "This system strangles Saudi women", said Abu-Dayyeh.

Others have called for the game to be moved due to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi including human rights groups such as Amnesty International.