Over the past three years, the improvement of women’s rights has been at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s reform efforts, particularly with regards to marital matters. This week, it seems there will soon be another major gain for women as reports point to discussions currently being held in relation to marriage contracts.
According to various sources interviewed by Okaz, it is believed that the Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice is working on a more inclusive process, regulations, and provisions that will allow women to be present during the drafting of their marriage contracts, thereby ensuring better transparency and consensus from both parties.
The new procedure will require women to explicitly state if they are satisfied with their prospective life partners, and their presence means they will now be able to examine the contents of the contracts before signing. In fact, her consent will be needed in order to validate the marriage. The new process will also give women the power to appoint a guardian for the process and aims to ensure that no form of coercion is used.
This new process, if put into effect, will be one in a series of reforms that have been set into motion since the ascension of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Indeed, Saudi Arabia, and particularly its Ministry of Justice and the Shoura Council, has been active in working on improving the rights of women across the Kingdom through introducing new laws and restructuring old ones.
In 2017, for instance. the matter of underage marriage of both Saudi and non-Saudi girls living in the Kingdom was brought to light with restrictions finally put in place regarding the issue. A year after that, members of the Shoura Council proposed a monetary compensation to be paid to divorced women, and also supported the proposal with a recommendation to the ministry to cease accepting complaints against women who run away or disobey their families.