Saudi women to be told of divorce by text

Saudi women shop at Al-Hayatt mall in Riyadh February 15, 2012. Single men are not allowed into the mall, which is accessible only to families and single women. Picture taken February 15, 2012. REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed (SAUDI RABIA - Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS) - RTR2XXMO
Photo credit: Reuters.

Women in Saudi Arabia will be notified by text message if they are divorced under a new law designed to protect them from having their marriage ended without their knowledge, the country's government says.

The new law, which came into effect on Sunday, is seen as a way to end secret divorces and ensure women are fully aware of their marital status so they can protect their rights.

The move comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has started to give women more rights in the conservative kingdom, including the lifting of a ban on women driving last year.

"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.

It said women could check their marital status on the ministry's website or visit the relevant court to get a copy of divorce papers.

Global rights group Equality Now's Suad Abu-Dayyeh said the new law was a positive step.

"At least women will know whether they are divorced or not. It is a tiny step, but it is a step in the right direction," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


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