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Saudi women gain right to marriage contract

Manasi GopalakrishnanMay 3, 2016

The justice ministry of Saudi Arabia has ordered clerics to provide women with a copy of their marriage contracts. Earlier, only men in the conservative Muslim kingdom had access to the document.

Image: Getty Images/J. Pix

Justice Minister Walid al-Samaani ordered the country's clerics to hand a copy of the wedding document to the bride "to ensure her awareness of her rights and terms of the contract."

In a statement published by the official SPA news agency, the ministry said that the decision aimed to "protect the rights of the woman and facilitate procedures for her." The ministry said its order took into consideration that the woman would need a copy of her contract in case of a dispute and in court.

Women have very limited rights in Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict interpretation of Islam. They need permission from male members in their family for marriage, travel or work, and are not even allowed behind the wheel of car. A woman's ability to work depends on whether she can afford a driver.

Despite plans to increase the country's female labor force, its rulers do not see women driving cars in the near future. "So far the society is not persuaded - and it has a negative influence - but we stress that it is up to the Saudi society," Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said at a press conference last week.

mg/jm (AFP)