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Speed up action on Bahrain family law, urges leader

A member of Shura Council (Upper House) has threatened to present a family law draft to his peers if the government fails to submit its own draft within three weeks.

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 00:00 February 15, 2006
  • Gulf News

Manama: A member of Shura Council (Upper House) has threatened to present a family law draft to his peers if the government fails to submit its own draft within three weeks.

"There is a critical need for a law that governs family matters and if the government does not put forward its proposal within three weeks, I will go ahead with provisions drafted by me and other members who share my views," Faisal Fouladh told the Shura Council on Monday as the 40-member body reconvened after the winter recess.

Fouladh, a board member of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, complained about the delay in government action, saying the procrastination meant more hardship for dozens of women and children whose fate depended on the personal discretion and interpretations of judges.

Alarming trend

He used figures from the Ministry of Justice to highlight the need for written legal texts to bring down the number of divorce and alimony cases. "The statistics even show that Bahrain has two divorcees whose age is below 15," he said.

Bahrain currently does not have a family law and countrywide attempts by the official Supreme Council for Women and women's rights activists for the promulgation of such a law have been vehemently resisted. According to Shiite scholars and leaders, only supreme religious authorities in Najaf, Iraq, could draft, approve and amend legal texts governing family matters.

Despite the opposition, the government said it would move ahead with two drafts, one for the Sunnis and one for the Shiites, and would submit them to the parliament for discussion.

Around 7,021 family dispute cases, an average of four cases a day, were filed in Bahrain over the last five years. "The most shocking thing about the scary divorce figures provided by the Ministry of Justice is that there were 46 divorcees aged between 15 and 19 in 2001, 43 in 2002 and a staggering figure of 57 in 2003," Fouladh said at the Shura session.

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