Female lawyers to be granted court access in Saudi Arabia

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Saudi Arabian woman wearing traditional ḥijāb.
Image: Walter Callens.

Female lawyers in Saudi Arabia may soon be granted limited court access for the first time. Mohammed al-Issa, the justice minister, said that the law was part of King Abdullah's ongoing reform to Saudi Arabia's judicial system. The law would allow female lawyers to represent other women at family-related cases, including marriage, divorce, and child custody.

Saudi women that are educated in law are currently permitted to work in the female section of government and court offices. Positions of higher authority are reserved for the opposite sex. The Saudi government is also building specialized "personal status" or family courts where female lawyers will be permitted to practice.

Women rights are strictly defined by Islamic Sharia law in Saudi Arabia. Employment and educational opportunities are dependent on a system of male guardianship. For example, a female under the age of 45 must gain the approval of a male before traveling.

According to the BBC, the law and other minor changes are steps in the direction of easing restrictions placed on Saudi women.


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