Sample Letter: Saudi Arabia: Women under Perpetual Guardianship of Male Relatives

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[His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726]

[His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741]


[Your Highness] [Dear Minister],

I am writing to express my deep concern about the system of perpetual male guardianship of Saudi women, which has wide-ranging consequences for Saudi women that are incompatible with their human rights. Although I am pleased about the reunification, in February 2010, of Fatima Bent Suleiman and Mansour El Timani, following a decision by the Saudi Supreme Judiciary Council to overturn their forced divorce, I remain concerned that this decision might not apply to other similar cases in the Kingdom and does not eradicate the system or the practice of male guardianship.
Due to this system, women in Saudi Arabia are vulnerable to a wide range of discrimination in both private and public life and have very little decision-making authority and freedom of movement. I ask you to ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system and Saudi practice reflect your government’s claim before international human rights bodies that Saudi women are not subject to male guardianship. In this regard I ask that you clarify that women have the right to enter into and stay in marriages of their choice without third party interference and the ability to make their own decisions in relation to education, healthcare, travel and employment and other aspects of life. I urge you to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage, divorce and all other aspects of life and to ensure that the practice of male guardianship ends.
I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely


Cc: The Human Rights Commission