Culture 17 January 2019
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.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."