Saudi courts will notify women by text message when they get divorced, in a new regulation that took effect on Sunday, officials said.
The measure approved by the justice ministry appears aimed at curbing seemingly rampant cases of men secretly ending marriages without informing their wives.
“Women… will be notified of any changes to their marital status via text message,” the justice ministry said in a statement carried by state-run Al-Ekhbariya news channel and other local media. “Women in the kingdom will be able to view documents related to the termination of their marriage contracts through the ministry’s website.”
The move comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler spearheads a liberalization drive in the conservative kingdom, which has some of the world’s toughest restrictions on women.
In June last year, women celebrated taking the wheel for the first time in decades as the kingdom overturned the world’s only ban on female motorists. 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.
But in tandem with the reforms, the kingdom has seen a wave of arrests of women activists in recent months as it steps up a crackdown on dissent.
The country also faces criticism over its male guardianship system, which allows men to exercise arbitrary authority to make decisions on behalf of their female relatives.
On Sunday, an 18-year-old Saudi woman held at Bangkok airport said she would be killed if she was repatriated by Thai immigration officials. Pleading her case on Twitter, the woman—who wanted to seek asylum in Australia—said she was trying to flee her family, who subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.