Divorcees and widows to get greater autonomy in Saudi Arabia

(REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser)

Saudi Arabia’s Al Riyadh newspaper has reported that the country’s interior ministry would begin issuing family identity cards not only to men but also to divorcees and widows, granting them powers that include authorizing medical procedures and registering children for schools. “If you asked me which was more important, this or driving, I would tell you a hundred times this. It gives Saudi women the right to identify herself as head of the family, to put her children through school, get them married,” said Salwa al-Hazza, a member of the Shura council, a body that lacks legislative powers but advises the government.

Currently when a divorce takes place, a woman continues to use her family card under her ex-husband’s identity, effectively making her dependent on him for all her and her children’s major life decisions. When denied permissions from divorced husbands, women are frequently forced to appeal to the judicial system — 65 percent of all cases before the courts are family status cases. With women also poised to participate in elections for local councils in Saudi Arabia for the first time, Saudi Arabia is lessening its grip on women, if only slightly.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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