Saudi women allowed to live independently without male guardian permission
According to the Makkah daily, Saudi Arabia has officially enabled single, divorced, or widowed women to live independently in a residence without the consent of their father or any other male guardian.
A new legislative modification in the Kingdom allows an adult and sensible woman to live alone in a separate house without the approval of her father or male supervision.
Judicial authorities scrapped Paragraph B under article 169 of the “Law of Procedure before Sharia Courts” which states that an adult single, divorced, or widowed woman shall be handed over to her male guardian.
It was replaced with a new legal text stipulating that “An adult woman has the right to choose where to live. A woman’s guardian can report her only if he has evidence proving she committed a crime.”
The text also states “If a woman is sentenced to a jail term, she will not be handed over to her guardian after completing her term.”
Families can no longer file lawsuits against their daughters who choose to live alone
“Families can no longer file lawsuits against their daughters who choose to live alone,” lawyer Naif Al Mansi said in an interview with the local paper.
In July 2020, Saudi writer Mariam Al Otaibi, 32, won a historic ruling ending a three-year legal battle against her family, which sued her for living and traveling alone under the “absenteeism” law.
She was put on trial for living and travelling alone without her father’s permission. Mariam Al Otaibi won the battle after a court ruled that she had “the right to choose where to live.”
In another incident, a case was filed by a man against his wife, in which he accused her of being absent from her home, which was later dismissed by a Saudi court.
Under the old “absenteeism” law, parents were allowed to file a report with the police against a woman in the event of her disappearance or living independently, without obtaining prior permission from the guardian.
From allowing its women to travel without male guardian’s approval to allowing them to live independently, Saudi Arabia is surely taking baby steps in the right direction.
Written by Ruth Jane