Quantcast
Connect with us

Saudi women use wedding contracts to assert right to drive

Published

on

Saudi salesman Majd had just begun his wedding preparations when his fiancee sought to enshrine in their marriage contract a condition already guaranteed by law — her right to drive.

Wedding contracts have long been a safety net for brides in the deeply patriarchal society, used to guarantee demands that are often otherwise vulnerable to the whims of the husband or his family.

ADVERTISEMENT

Such legally binding contracts typically codify anything from the woman’s right to have her own house, hire a maid, or to study or work.

But after the kingdom last year lifted a decades-long ban on female motorists, a popular new condition in the contracts is the right to own and drive a car, according to documents seen by AFP and interviews with wedding clerics.

Majd, 29, who is due to marry this month in his native Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia, signed off on two demands from his 21-year-old fiancee ?- the right to drive and to work after marriage, according to the contract he shared with AFP.

“She said she (would) like to be independent,” explained Majd, who requested his last name be withheld as the discussion was a private family matter.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I replied: ‘sure, why not?'”

Overturning the world’s only ban on women drivers is the most palpable social change in the ultra-conservative kingdom, which is pursuing a wide-ranging liberalisation drive.

To drive, women do not require the explicit approval of their male “guardians” — husbands, fathers and other male relatives, whose permission is needed by women to study, get married and even leave prison.

ADVERTISEMENT

But it remains unclear whether women have any legal recourse should their guardians prevent them from taking the wheel.

And many in the kingdom appear to be trapped in this troubling scenario.

“Some women prefer to include the driving condition in their contract to avoid any marital conflicts” over the issue, said Abdulmohsen al-Ajemi, a Riyadh wedding cleric who received his first such enquiry from the family of an engaged woman last week.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s a way to guarantee the husband will keep his promise.”

A breach of wedding conditions can be used by women as grounds for divorce, clerics say.

– ‘I don’t want you’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

There are no official statistics on the number of such contracts. Saudi Arabia’s justice and media ministries did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.

But Munirah al-Sinani, a 72-year-old housewife in Dhahran, a city in the kingdom’s east, said she had come across two such cases recently among her acquaintances.

“If you don’t let me drive, if you say ‘no’, then khallas (finished) — I don’t want you,” Sinani quoted one of the women as telling her potential spouse.

ADVERTISEMENT

The trend underscores how women appear to be using the contracts to side-step patriarchy ?- and the conditions appear to be getting bolder.

A man in eastern Al-Ahsa city told AFP that during a marriage within his extended family, the bride demanded that her husband-to-be give up smoking.

Another woman asked that her husband have no access to her salary and another stipulated that she should not fall pregnant in the first year of marriage, according to cleric Ajemi.

ADVERTISEMENT

A Saudi woman took social media by storm recently when she posted her wedding contract online.

The document prohibited her husband from taking a second wife, even though polygamy is legal in Islam.

Angry online trolls rebuked her husband as “unmanly” for accepting the condition.

ADVERTISEMENT

Men also sometimes use wedding contracts to stipulate that the “wife will never work” or that she must agree to live with his mother, senior cleric Adel al-Kalbani told AFP.

The new conditions are a sign of the kingdom’s social transformation that appears to be granting women more rights, Kalbani and Ajemi said.

But they could also cause strains in marriages in a traditional society where such conditions may be deemed insulting or signify a lack of trust in the husband, typically the head of a household.

ADVERTISEMENT

Saudi media has already reported a spike in divorce cases in recent years.

“In the past, society did not listen to women. Husbands would turn around and firmly say ‘No’,” cleric Ajemi said.

“But now they are listening to the aspirations of women, adapting to their demands.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

He’s trying ‘to get under Trump’s skin’: Reporter Olivia Nuzzi outlines Joe Walsh’s impact on 2020

Published

on

Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton explained during an MSNBC panel discussion that former Rep. Joe Walsh isn't likely to peel away many voters from Trump as someone who is "Trump-light." New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi, however, thinks Walsh with have a more significant impact, whether or not he can win the primary race.

During a CNN panel discussion, Nuzzi similarly noted that Walsh's primary purpose could be to troll the president.

Continue Reading

CNN

Boris Johnson ‘tremendously humiliated’ Donald Trump on a global scale at G-7 meeting: CNN analyst

Published

on

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of President Donald Trump's favorite people to take over for Theresa May when she resigned this summer. But Johnson also mocked the U.S. president and humiliated him on a global scale, said New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi.

During a panel discussion on CNN Sunday, CNN's Ryan Lizza opened by saying that Johnson is in a tight spot as he's trying to negotiate Brexit while serving as an international leader to the G-7. Johnson also needs to negotiate a trade deal with Trump, but he clearly is going about it in the worst possible way.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump allies acquiring ‘dirt’ on journalists to take them down during the 2020 election

Published

on

President Donald Trump's war against the media has taken a next step. According to The New York Times, Trump's allies have been compiling information on reporters at CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times to strike back because the president believes they "aggressively investigated" him.

The information was revealed Sunday using information disclosed by associates of conservative Arthur Schwartz, who is spearheading the project. Schwartz is an adviser to Donald Trump Jr. and previously worked with Steve Bannon.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
HELP US UNCOVER CORRUPTION!
close-link
close-image