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Saudi Arabia amends law for women seeking divorce

There have been a string of reforms aimed at improving Saudi women's rights [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 February, 2018

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Saudi Arabia has removed the "house of obedience" article in the marriage law which forces a wife to return to the marital home against her will.
Women in Saudi Arabia seeking divorce will no longer be forced to return to the marital home. 

The Ministry of Justice said it has removed the so-called "House of Obedience" article of the marriage law which forces a wife to return to her husband after she asks for a divorce.

Pro-government newspaper Okaz reported that Saudi legislators will refer to article 75 of the kingdom's laws when dealing with future divorce cases.

The article states that "sentences forcing a woman to return to her marital home shall not be applied".

The change is the latest in a string of nascent reforms aimed at improving the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

The most high-profile "progressive" move came in September 2017 when the kingdom announced the lifting of the women's driving ban.

Since then, the ultra-conservative kingdom has opened sports stadiums to women for the first time and is reportedly preparing a draft law to combat sexual harassment and help protect women from perpetrators.

However the Gulf state still has the most restrictive laws against women, with many activists arguing that granting small freedoms is meaningless until the male guardianship system is abolished.

Special coverage: Inside the fight for
women's rights in the Middle East

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