Cairo: A member of Saudi Arabia’s consultative Shura Council has proposed criminalinising the deprivation of women of their rightful inheritance, as the kingdom is seeking to boost women’s rights.
Iqbal Dirndari said that some women in Saudi Arabia are still denied access to their inheritance shares by their male family members.
“The Islamic Sharia is keen to protect women’s inheritance rights. The state has also made efforts in this domain. However, we still see some women informally deprived of their inheritance shares at the hands of some family males who withhold those shares and give them [women] little or nothing, or force them to stop demanding their rights, or giving them up under coercion,” Iqbal said.
While saying that those cases are limited, she called on the Justice Ministry to put in place measures criminalising the practice including jail and fine penalties against offenders.
“It will be appropriate for the ministry to devise preventive measures that guarantee women’s access to their inheritance rights. It will also be beneficial that the ministry adopts technical programmes to make sure that all heirs have obtained their rightful inheritance shares determined by the Sharia as soon as possible,” she added.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has experienced dramatic social and economic changes championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has sought to vigorously empower women.
In 2018, the kingdom allowed women to drive for the first time in its history, ending a decades-old ban on female driving.
Saudi authorities have allowed women to travel without a male guard’s approval and to apply for a passport, easing long-time controls on them.