Saudi Arabia to notify women of divorce via text

John Bacon

Saudi Arabian courts will notify women by text message when their husbands have been granted divorces under a law that took effect Sunday.

The initiative is aimed at concerns that Saudi men were increasingly neglecting to tell their wives they were divorced.

Lawyer Somayya Al-Hindi told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that Saudi courts in the past heard many cases of Saudi women still living with their ex-husbands without realizing they had been divorced.

“This will put an end to any attempts at cheating or impersonating the identity of women to take control of their bank accounts and property using previously issued powers of attorney,” Al-Hindi said.

More: Death penalty sought for 5 suspects in Jamal Khashoggi killing

More: Death penalty sought for 5 suspects in Jamal Khashoggi killing

Lawyer Nasreen Al-Ghamdi said Saudi courts regularly receive complaints about impersonating the identity of divorced women.

"This is a huge step forward ...(for) divorced women," he told the Gazette.

Women will be notified immediately when a divorce deed is issued by a court. The text includes the number of the divorce document and the court that issued it.

The move is part of a drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's de facto ruler, to liberalize the kingdom, home to some of the world's most restrictive laws for women.

A new law last year allowed women to drive for the first time. 

The crown prince has been the subject of controversy in the U.S. since the Oct. 2 death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a frequent critic of the Saudi royal family, died after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage.

Turkish prosecutors have accused the crown prince of arranging the attack on Khashoggi in the consulate or knowing about it in advance. The kingdom denies the claim, and five Saudis face trial in Riyadh on murder charges that could result in the death penalty.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Saudi Arabia to notify women of divorce via text