According to a new law enacted in Saudi Arabia, women who are being served a divorce by their husbands will be notified of their new marriage status through a text message.
The new law is being enacted to increase a woman’s rights and to end the practice of men issuing divorces to their wives without informing them. "Saudi courts have started to send such (divorce) notifications ... a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients," the Saudi Ministry of Justice said in a statement on their website.
The message will include the divorce certificate number, women would be able check their marital status on the ministry's website and/or visit the relevant court to get a copy of their divorce papers.
The move will go some way in addressing the power imbalance between a man and a woman in a marriage in the country. Under Saudi Arabia’s law, men can unilaterally divorce their wives, but women lack the same right; a man does not need to notify his wife of any intent to separate; and mediators and judges listening to divorce cases are conservative men. Throughout the divorce proceedings, the husband remains the wife's guardian.
This new move by the Saudi government comes a few months after women in Saudi Arabia were granted the right to drive. It also forms part of the social and economic reforms known as Vision 2030 being promoted by the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
But along with these reforms, the kingdom has seen a wave of arrests of female activists in recent months as it steps up a crackdown on dissent and women activists demanding more rights. This step is also a minor one towards women empowerment as under Saudi law, as a woman’s life from birth to death is still controlled by a man – a father, brother or husband.