Saudi Arabia allows adult women to live independently without male guardian approval

Published June 11, 2021
Saudi families arrive outside a stadium to attend an event in the capital Riyadh on September 23, 2017, commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the kingdom. — AFP/File
Saudi families arrive outside a stadium to attend an event in the capital Riyadh on September 23, 2017, commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the kingdom. — AFP/File

Saudi women can now live on their own without requiring the consent of their father or male guardian after a new legal amendment by the Kingdom, Gulf News reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, Saudi legal authorities removed paragraph (b) from Article 169 of the "Law of Procedure before Sharia Courts" which stated that an adult single, divorced, or widowed woman would be handed over to her male guardian.

Instead, it was replaced with an amendment which states: "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."

It also said, "If a woman is sentenced to a jail term, she will not be handed over to her guardian after completing her term," according to Gulf News.

“Families can no longer file lawsuits against their daughters who choose to live alone,” lawyer Naif Al Mansi said while speaking to the Makkah Newspaper. He added that the courts would not accept cases of this nature anymore.

Abuse of male guardianship system

Saudi media had first reported in February 2019 that the Kingdom was studying how its male guardianship system was being abused.

At the time, Saudi public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb had said his office would “spare no efforts in protecting individuals, whether women, children or parents, from unfair treatment by those who abuse guardianship powers”, according to English daily Saudi Gazette.

Later the same year in August, the Kingdom had granted permission to Saudi women to travel abroad without approval from a male guardian.

The decision had come after high-profile attempts by women to escape their guardians despite a string of reforms. "A passport will be granted to any Saudi national who submits an application," said a government ruling published in the official gazette Umm al-Qura.


Additional input from Reuters and AFP.

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