As Saudi Arabia continues to move towards modernizing its society and improving the rights of women, the Kingdom has also been focusing on women’s rights with regards to marital affairs. Last year, an ad-hoc inter-ministerial committee was set up to address the issue of underage marriage of both Saudi and non-Saudi girls living in the Kingdom. This year, members of the Shoura Council, the nation’s consultative assembly, are proposing monetary compensation to be paid to divorced women.
According to Saudi Gazette, Shoura members Iqbal Darandari, Sultanah Al-Badawi, and Ahlam Al-Hikmi have submitted a proposal this month to the Ministry of Justice regarding this matter and the council is set to discuss the proposal after the Eid vacation.
It was reported earlier this year that more than 53,000 divorces take place in Saudi Arabia annually. Given the rising number of divorces across the Kingdom, it has become more crucial than ever to review existing laws surrounding such matters and particularly to look at the rights of women following the dissolvement of marriage. That is why the recent proposal by the council members was drafted, to address the rising number of women facing financial difficulties after divorce.
Traditionally, Saudi women receive financial support from their husbands during marriage. However, following a divorce, women whose ex-husbands remarry in particular are denied financial support of any kind. In addition to that, women do not own family property deeds, so after a divorce most women are left with nowhere to live, as their husbands are owners of the home.
Some argue that housewives traditionally devote their lives to family, children, and home, a significant investment of time and energy that should be compensated once these women are divorced. Across the globe today, many countries award women the right of inheritance even after divorce, something the council members are hoping to introduce to Saudi Arabia.
Shoura member Darandari supported the proposal with a recommendation to the ministry to cease accepting complaints against women who run away or disobey their families, as such complaints are often used to demonize women, create a dishonorable image of them in divorce suits, or used as legal leverage to threaten women and curb them from seeking divorce in court.