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Sun 21 Feb 2016 01:02 PM

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Saudi relaxes court rules for women

Women can file lawsuits in their hometown rather than that of the defendant to avoid having to travel

Saudi relaxes court rules for women
(Image illustrative purpose only - Getty Images)

The Ministry of Justice in Saudi Arabia has set out new rules intended to simplify legal procedures for female claimants, local media reported.

Under the changes, women no longer have to travel to the defendant’s hometown to file a case, as was required previously. Now, they can file a case in their own location irrespective of whether or not the defendant also resides there, according to a report in Saudi Gazette.

The changes are intended to prevent women from having to travel elsewhere to make a legal claim – which is difficult in Saudi Arabia.

The newspaper quoted the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) secretary-general Khalid Al Fakhry as saying: “The legal system obliges plaintiffs to file lawsuits at courts in locations where the defendants lived.

“However, the ministry has exempted women from the requirement, relieving them of the burden of travel and transport to claim justice.”

The process of filing a claim can now take a matter of minutes, not hours or even days, he said.

“The rate of personal status cases being filed at the NSHR had dropped by 9 percent in the past two years,” Al Fakry added.

“In each court, the ministry has allocated a judge to handle women’s issues. This policy prevents lawsuits from being dispersed and forwarded to several directorates forcing women to chase after the case.”

Under the changes, the newspaper reported, women can book appointments and cancel them from home via the ministry’s website. Women are given priority in cases of alimony and custody.