Council members play down objections by judges -
Saudi Gazette - RIYADH - The Shoura Council will debate the issue of mandatory civil ID cards for Saudi women when the advisory body starts its next session on Sept. 10.
A number of judges from various regions of the Kingdom have expressed their objections to and reservations on the government’s move to make the IDs mandatory for all Saudi women. The Shoura Council’s upcoming session is expected to approve a landmark recommendation in this regard with a unanimous vote.
The Shoura had earlier entrusted its security committee to carry out extensive studies about introducing civil status ID for all Saudi women, as well as to suggest the best method to enforce the regulation without exception.
Abdul Wahab Al-Mojthal, a member of the committee, expressed surprise about the objections raised by some judges with regard to the ID issue. “It is strange that there are people who oppose some government decisions and royal decrees about which comprehensive studies were carried out and necessary reviews were made by the concerned authorities with the sole purpose of serving the public interests,” he said.
King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, earlier directed formation of a high level committee, comprised of representatives of the ministries of interior, justice and social affairs, to carry out studies about various aspects of implementing the royal decree in this regard. Later, the committee had recommended making IDs mandatory for all Saudi women without exception over a period not exceeding seven years. The recommendation said that after this period the IDs would be the only means to prove the identity of Saudi women.
Al-Mojthal said both Saudi men and women are citizens and hence there should not be any differentiation between them.
“Issuance of separate IDs for women would also result in ending several negative and even dangerous phenomena and situations, such as involvement of women in terror cases, as well as proving identity in courts and government offices, in addition to applying for and getting jobs in government and private sectors,” he said.
According to Al-Mojthal, implementation of the move to introduce mandatory civil IDs would not be postponed. “We are determined to go ahead with the move, especially in the wake of rising cases of Saudi women being misused by terror cells, in addition to taking advantage of the growing employment opportunities for women,” he added.
Abdullah Al-Sughair, another member of the security committee, played down the objections raised by some judges against the ID move. “These are isolated cases of objections by some people who are wary of any possible Shariah violations involved in this. Perhaps these people have reservations about granting women more freedom,” he pointed out.
According to Al-Sughair, it is extremely important to issue separate IDs for women so that it could be their document of proof for employment, travel and even for family matters, such as divorce and maintenance. “Any sensible man cannot stand in the way of a matter that serves the public interests of both the men and women citizens and the country as a whole. The ID issue has also attained greater security dimensions,” he said, adding that the Shoura members are unanimous on this issue.
Al-Sughair expressed hope that the Shoura would pass the recommendation with a unanimous vote.
The Shoura members’ comments came a few days after a warning issued by Muhammad Al-Jasser, spokesman for the Civil Status Department to some government departments which are refusing to recognize women’s civil ID cards as a proof of identity. He said that such acts would be treated as a violation of the regulations.
Al-Jasser noted that there is no directive making IDs mandatory for women at present. “Any Saudi female whose age is 15 or above can apply for the ID. Two women holding ID cards can testify for her and there is no need for a male guardian to issue her the ID. A woman can obtain the birth certificate of her newborn baby from the Civil Status Department if she is a holder of ID and a family card to show her marriage relationship,” he said.