Saudi women have long been using wedding contracts as a safety net in the patriarchal society. The contracts are used to guarantee demands that are often otherwise vulnerable to the whims of the husband or his family.
Such legally binding contracts typically codify anything from the woman’s right to have her own house, hire a maid, or to study or work.
According to documents seen by AFP and interviews with wedding clerics, after the country last year raised a decades-long ban on female motorists, a new condition in the contracts is the right to own and drive a car.
As per the report shared by 29-year-old Saudi salesman Majd, his 21-year-old fiance has demanded the right to drive and to work after marriage.”She said she (would) like to be independent,” explained Majd.
Majd requested his last name be withheld as the discussion was a private family matter. Majd accepted her demand indeed. The kingdom has witnessed reversing the world’s only ban on women drivers is the most noticeable change.
Women do not need the approval of their male “guardians” such as husbands, fathers, and other male relatives to drive. But it is not clear whether women have any legal recourse should their guardians prevent them from driving.
Abdulmohsen al-Ajemi, a Riyadh wedding cleric who received his first such enquiry from the family of an engaged woman last week said that “Some women prefer to include the driving condition in their contract to avoid any marital conflicts.” He added that “It’s a way to guarantee the husband will keep his promise.”