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Saudi Arabia Issues New Rule: Women Will Be Notified of Divorce Through A Text Message

Culture

Just a week into the New Year, Saudi Arabia made a big change in their realm of politics. As of January 6, the government made it mandatory for Saudi women to be notified about their divorce.


While this may seem like an uncommon way to end a marriage, Saudi women often don't know their marital status. The new law is no longer making it possible for their husbands to sneakily file for divorce, a common issue in this Middle Eastern country. As a step in the right direction for Saudi women, the courts will send an SMS text message when they are being divorced. Now, they will not have the disadvantage of not knowing.

How does this new policy affect women?

The Saudi Ministry of Justice, which oversees the administration of the country’s court system, issued a statement online regarding the new policy. “Saudi courts have started [sending] such notifications…a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing the digital transformation with more services,” the Saudi Ministry of Justice states. “The courts notify women of probate certificates related to marital status – upon approval – through their Absher-registered mobile numbers.” In addition to the new law, women have access to an online portal on the Ministry of Justice website, where they can find additional information about their marital status.

Not only does this law require that women are informed, but also protects their rights, especially when it comes to negotiating alimony or custody. Saudi courts text information including a divorce certificate number and the name of the court where the documents can be retrieved, according to CNN. In spite of the recent changes, husbands are still able to divorce their wives without letting them know.

Following Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s lifted ban on women driving last year this initiative goes along with his Vision for 2030 economic and social reforms. Within that plan, women have gained more rights in recent years, but are still limited by what they can do due to a male guardianship system, Bloomberg reports. For those who don't know, Saudi women are restricted from doing certain things without permission from a male, such as a husband, father or brother. As a result, Saudi women are still taking to social media to protest for more freedom.

“At least women will know whether they are divorced or not,” Suad Abu-Dayyeh said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is a tiny step, but it is a step in the right direction.”

The guardianship is one of many things women are protesting. Suad Abu-Dayyeh from global rights group, Equality Now, shares insight on the matter in an interview with Reuters. “The male guardianship system is a core issue and it must be dismantled,” Abu-Dayyeh said to a Reuters reporter. “This system strangles Saudi women.” Social issues surrounding the male-dominated kingdom also involve dress codes -- not being able to appear in public without wearing a full-length black abaya or mixing freely with the opposite sex despite fewer restrictions on gender-mixing are still prevalent.

In light of the new law, the Twitter community was life with comments. Both men and women have shared their thoughts on the matter. A tweet sent out by a copy of a ministry circular was shared by, Step Feed regarding the 2030 Vision for economic and social reforms. Some found the law helpful, others deemed it ridiculous and the remainder criticized its impact on women in this Middle Eastern country.

The new law faced criticism from a few.

Translation: "A move that should’ve been made tens of years ago. Progress is incredibly slow here, especially when it comes to women’s rights.”

A few jokes were made in response to the progress of women’s rights.

Translation: "Salem sister, we wanted to inform you that you’ve been divorced. Your husband came here a while ago and divorced you. We thought we should let you know, we’ve advanced a little. But your presence isn’t important, thank you."

“This system strangles Saudi women.”

Others helped forward important information and positive reinforcement.

Translation: "An excellent step the most important thing is to be registered in Absher until the text message comes."

Photo Courtesy of BBC News.

This new law is a small development and achievement for women within Saudi Arabia. “At least women will know whether they are divorced or not,” Suad Abu-Dayyeh said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is a tiny step, but it is a step in the right direction.

In the past couple of years, there have been a few advancements and progresses regarding women’s rights. The New Year has just begun -- meaning there may be more policy implementations in the months ahead, following the crown prince’s strategic planning for new reforms.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.