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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 9 May 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Why Do Divorced Saudi Women Need a Guardian?


By Dr. Haya Abdulaziz Al-Manee

May 08, 2015

Here is a real example of the contradictory laws affecting women and of the flaws that exist within our legal system. The victims of these flaws tend to be women in general, especially those who are divorced. This particular woman I am telling you about won custody of her children. The custody certificate clearly states that the woman has every right to apply for passports for her children as their legal guardian.  It is a good thing that mothers in our country are given such rights, especially since some men are known to abuse this right. However, this particular woman could not apply for passports for her children. Officials at the Passport Department  told her she needed to bring a male guardian to do so.

To make matters worse, this divorced woman needed to include her name on her father’s ID as her guardian, even though he had passed away. This she managed to do and then was able to appoint her brother as her new guardian and give him the power of attorney. Only then could she apply for a passport.

Certain aspects of our law dealing with women should be revoked because they are a disgrace. Take the example of this woman. It is nonsensical for her to be forced to include her name on her father’s ID. Why should she have to go through such trouble? Why does she have to appoint a guardian to apply for passports for her children? Why do we have all these complicated requirements and conditions for women? Why does she need to issue her new guardian with a general power of attorney rather than a private one?

We all know that a general power of attorney gives more powers to the agent and allows him to buy, sell, and do many other things without needing to consult the person who gave him the authority in the first place.  The court appointed this woman the official guardian of her children; yet, the Passport Department rejected her guardianship and asked for a male guardian.

Legislation is enacted to protect humans and not to discriminate against them. However, the reality for women is difficult. There are loopholes in the law and the authorities need to coordinate more with one another to resolve these problems. The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice should work together to do something for these women. I am sure that Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif would not approve of such treatment.

We all know that the Shariah only requires guardians for a woman who has never been married and wants to get married. The guardianship requirements we have today in many situations are the outcome of the past when women needed protection, did not go to school and could not work.

Requiring a woman to bring a guardian whenever she wants to do something is unreasonable. Getting a passport does not necessarily mean that one wants to travel abroad. Traveling abroad does not mean that one will go against Islamic values and commit sins. Fear of Allah does not have geographical boundaries. If it did, then how could we possibly explain the crimes committed in Makkah and Madinah which are the most sacred places for Muslims around the world.

We are today witnessing great developments in our country. I hope to see laws that take the situation of women into account and empower women to succeed.