In an attempt to keep Saudi women in the loop on decisions their husbands make regarding their marital status, Saudi courts will now notify ex-wives by SMS if their partners divorce them, according to a new regulation that took effect Sunday, officials said.
Saudi Justice Minister Sheikh Waleed bin Mohammed al Samaani said that by notifying women of the change to their legal status, the text message system would bring transparency to the legal proceedings around divorce.
"Women in the kingdom will be able to view documents related to the termination of their marriage contracts through the ministry's website", the spokesperson added. "It is a tiny step, but it is a step in the right direction", she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
And from a year ago mothers in Saudi Arabia can retain custody of their children after divorce without filing lawsuits. In these cases, often referred to as secret divorces, women often end up missing out on alimony payments.
Saudi women are subject to male guardianship laws.
The kingdom has also allowed women to enter sports stadiums, previously a male-only arena, and is pushing for greater participation of women in the workforce as it seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy. It will be the first among Saudi carriers to recruit women in senior positions.
Previous year a decades-old driving ban on women was reversed, meaning that a Saudi female can now drive down the street while simultaneously receiving a text notification that her husband has left her.
However, the crown prince's reforms, which include granting women driver's licenses, have been overshadowed by a wave of arrests of women activists in recent months as the kingdom steps up a crackdown on dissent.
The system ensures Saudi Arabia remains one of the most gender unequal countries in the Middle East.