Middle East


Another step towards empowering women!

This week, the Saudi Ministry of Justice announced that it would be offering electronic marriage contracts as part of its plan to be more efficient and to have more automated services available to the general public. This new online system is seen as not only another key move towards the digitalization of government services and entities in Saudi Arabia but also as a step towards improving the rights of women in the Kingdom.

With this e-marriage registration system, couples will now be able to fill their respective data directly on the Najez portal. The system also ensures that any bride-to-be is a willing participant in the upcoming marriage as her direct approval will be needed, and the portal also gives full access to a range of legal services.

Diplomats in Iraq are voicing concern over the rise in domestic abuse after self-isolation measures were put in place to stop the transmission of coronavirus.

Since the US-led invasion in 2003, women’s rights groups in Iraq have campaigned for a legislation on domestic violence.

The Iraqi constitution expressly prohibits “all forms of violence and abuse in the family” although the country’s laws allow husbands to “discipline” their wives.

Human rights groups in Iraq reported a surge in abuse killings and rape since the lockdown was imposed last month.

The case of Malak Al Zubadi, 20, who was allegedly set on fire and abused by her husband, a police officer in Najaf, has this week brought to light the necessity for a law criminalising domestic violence.

“We are very sad about the case of Malak Al Zubaidi and hope the investigation is concluded as quickly as possible,” tweeted Stephen Hickey, the British ambassador to Iraq.

“This is a strong reminder that domestic violence, whether it is psychological or physical abuse, is a problem that pervades the world.”

The UK is also facing challenges on this issue, especially during the outbreak of coronavirus, Mr Hickey said.

Since 2015, the Iraqi Parliament has reviewed a draft anti-domestic violence law that some members oppose over concerns that it might counter the country’s principles.

The US-led invasion sparked a religious insurgency and sectarian conflicts.

Extremists filled a vacuum of lawlessness, imposing conservative policies that were particularly intolerant of women’s rights.

This meant that women’s groups had little success in securing legal rights.

Various UN agencies on Thursday urged Iraq’s Parliament to approve a law against domestic violence.

The UN said this was partly because of “increased household tensions as a result of the confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Such crimes raise the alarm for the urgency to endorse the Anti-Domestic Violence Law in Iraq,” the UN’s office in Iraq said on Thursday.

Mr Hickey welcomed the UN’s call for the Iraqi government to “prioritise the protection of women and children and criminalise domestic violence”.

“Violence is by no means acceptable,” he said.

Mr Hickey said the UK allocated £2 million (Dh9.1m/US$2.5m) to support domestic violence services.

The EU ambassador to Iraq, Martin Huth, said that the rise in the number of cases was “of deep concern”.

The National

The first women’s professional golf event to be staged in Saudi Arabia has been rescheduled for Oct. 8-11 after it was postponed last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers have confirmed.

The Saudi Ladies International, which is part of the Ladies European Tour (LET), will be hosted at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with a purse of $1 million, and is the first of its kind to be held in the kingdom.

“We have been extremely impressed by Golf Saudi’s commitment to working through the challenges and making this historic event happen,” Alexandra Armas, LET CEO, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tour has been on hold since the South African Women’s Open finished on March 14, with the next scheduled event the Jabra Ladies Open at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France from June 18-20.

The Jakarta Post

Saudi Arabian women continue to make up an increasing part of the Kingdom’s workforce, with participation growing 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 26 percent, according to official data.

Overall unemployment among Saudi Arabians remained unchanged throughout in the quarter at 12 percent.

Unemployment had fallen in the third quarter to 12 percent from 12.9 percent in the second, according to official data released Monday by the Kingdom’s General Authority of Statistics (GASTAT).

The unemployment rate among Saudi Arabia’s total population stood at 5.7 percent. Around one-third of residents in the Kingdom are non-Saudis.

These numbers will likely take a hit in 2020 as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causes severe economic shocks around the world. Governments have imposed lockdowns and shut businesses, with Saudi Arabia putting a 24-hour curfew in place for its major cities.

Economic participation among Saudis, a goal of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan and Saudization initiatives, has increased. Figures for all Saudi Arabian citizens were up from 45.7 percent to 46.7 percent in Q4 2019. For Saudi Arabian males, the figure was 66.6 percent – a slight decrease of 0.4 percent.

The increase reflects the growing role of women in the workforce. Age is also a factor, with young people constituting the highest proportion of the unemployed. The survey reported 64.1 percent of Saudi Arabians aged 20-29 were unemployed.

GASTAT conducts quarterly surveys of the labor market in the Kingdom and also uses data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, Human Resources Development Fund, National Information Center, and General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). — Al Arabiya English

Saudi Gazette