Saudi Arabian women are using marriage contracts to enforce their constitutional rights.
Rabat – Wedding contracts have long been used by Saudi women to protect their rights after marriage. These contracts are traditionally used to guarantee new brides the right to continue their studies, work, or own property.
However since the ban on female drivers was lifted in June of 2018, women have been using their marriage contracts to enshrine their right to drive.
The new trend has emboldened Saudi brides and their contracts have been making a stir on social media.
One groom told Agence France Press (AFP) that his bride, a member of his extended family in the eastern Al-Ahsa city, had used the contract to make him give up smoking.
Another case, which went viral on social media, was that of a woman who posted her contract on the internet. The contract prohibited her husband from taking a second wife, since Islam allows men to marry up to four wives. The soon to be husband was met with significant backlash online for accepting the conditions.
Cases shared on social media have seen brides stipulating that they will not share their salaries with their husbands and even specify that they want to wait to get pregnant.
The contracts stipulate that breaking these conditions is grounds for divorce.
Many husbands are supportive of their brides stipulations, citing their right to independence. Majd, a 29 year old man from Saudi Arabia told Gulf News “She said she (would) like to be independent,”
“I replied: ‘sure, why not?'” said the groom, who asked for his family name to be kept out of the press for privacy.
Men have also begun to take part in manipulating these contracts with conditions that the “wife will never work,” or that she must agree to live with his mother, senior cleric Adel al-Kalbani told AFP.
The contracts are serving as a catalyst to grant women more rights. These new strides towards women’s independence may seem groundbreaking, but they might also serve as a hindrance to traditional marriages in a society where conditions are deemed an insult or lack of trust for one’s husband.
“In the past, society did not listen to women. Husbands would turn around and firmly say ‘No’,” Said senior wedding cleric Abdulmohsen Al-Ajemi told Gulf News.
“But now they are listening to the aspirations of women.”
So far there are no official statistics regarding the marriage contracts.