Over 500 Saudis file online marriage contracts amid COVID-19 lockdown

The Justice Ministry portal also allows users to check medical examinations online without the need to physically visit a hospital and to record a marriage electronically in the Ministerial Agency of Civil Affairs. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 05 May 2020

Over 500 Saudis file online marriage contracts amid COVID-19 lockdown

  • 542 online marriage contracts had been filed via the portal since the suspension of work on March 16

RIYADH: The Najiz portal of the Saudi Ministry of Justice, offering online marriage contracts, has attracted couples in Riyadh eager to tie the knot amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown.
The ministry revealed on Monday that 542 online marriage contracts had been filed via the portal since the suspension of work on March 16.
The service aims to expedite the process by facilitating the completion of marriage procedures and obtaining ministerial approval for couples without necessitating their physical presence in court. It also allows users to check medical examinations online without the need to physically visit a hospital and to record a marriage electronically in the Ministerial Agency of Civil Affairs.
The portal also gives beneficiaries the ability to make appointments electronically, prepare contract data and review the conditions before the appointment.
Abdul Aziz Mohammed welcomed this step. He considers his marriage contract to be enough of a wedding celebration and plans to move in with his new wife immediately.
“We weren’t planning on having a big wedding anyway, and this makes it easier on all of us. The money we would have spent on a wedding can go into savings instead, and no one will be at risk of catching the virus from our party,” he said.

FASTFACTS

• 542 online marriage contracts have been filed via the Najiz portal since the suspension of work on March 16.

• The service aims to expedite the process by facilitating the completion of marriage procedures.

• The portal also gives beneficiaries the ability to make appointments electronically, prepare contract data and review the conditions before the appointment.

“We both agreed that we could always have a big celebration on our first anniversary,” Mohammed added.
However, those wanting to celebrate their weddings with parties and gatherings will have to wait much longer, especially with no cure for COVID-19 in the foreseeable future.
Bride-to-be and university student Reem H. is taking no chances with the virus and postponing all celebrations until things settle down again.
“We were supposed to have a big engagement party a week after the actual lockdown. My fiancé’s family suggested holding a small party in our home with very close family and friends. However, my father was against it because of the government’s instructions and asked to postpone our engagement party until the coast is clear and the pandemic is over,” she said.
“We want to enjoy this momentous time with the people we love, knowing that we are all safe,” Reem added.


Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

Updated 01 October 2020

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

  • It will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools

JEDDAH: Violations of Saudi Arabia’s anti-sexual harassment laws could be punished by “naming and shaming” following a decision by the Kingdom’s Shoura Council to approve a defamation penalty.

The council voted in favor of the penalty during its session on Wednesday after previously rejecting the move in March this year.

Council member Latifah Al-Shaalan said the proposal to include the penalty was sent by the Saudi Cabinet.

Saudi lawyer Njood Al-Qassim said she agrees with the move, adding that it will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools.

“The penalty will be imposed according to a court ruling under the supervision of judges, and according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society,” Al-Qassim told Arab News.

“This will be a deterrent against every harasser and molester,” she said.

Al-Qassim said that legal experts are required to explain the system and its penalties to the public.

“The Public Prosecution has clarified those that may be subject to punishment for harassment crimes, including the perpetrator, instigator and accessory to the crime, the one who agreed with the harasser, malicious report provider, and the person who filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit,” she added.

“The Public Prosecution also confirmed that attempted harassment requires half the penalty prescribed for the crime,” said Al-Qassim.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved a measure criminalizing sexual harassment under which offenders will be fined up to SR100,000 ($26,660) and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime. 

In the most severe cases, where the victims are children or disabled, for example, violators will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000.

Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, particularly those targeting children under 18 and people with special needs.

Witnesses are also encouraged to report violations and their identities will remain confidential.

The law defines sexual harassment as words or actions that hint at sexuality toward one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. It takes into account harassment in public areas, workplaces, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.

“The legislation aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

Council member Eqbal Darandari, who supports the law, said on Twitter that the defamation penalty has proven its effectiveness in crimes in which a criminal exploits a person’s trust.

“The defamation of one person is a sufficient deterrent to the rest,” she said.

Social media activist Hanan Abdullah told Arab News the decision “is a great deterrent for every harasser since some fear for their personal and family’s reputation, and won’t be deterred except through fear of defamation.”

The move will protect women from “uneducated people who believe that whoever leaves her house deserves to be attacked and harassed,” she said.

“Anyone who is unhappy with this decision should look at their behavior.”