Saudi women face jail & flogging for checking husband’s phone unlawfully
They are not allowed to drive or even go out in public on their own. Now women in Saudi Arabia have discovered they will be flogged and imprisoned if they check their husband’s telephone without his permission.
According to lawyer Mohammed Al-Temyat, who describes himself as a member of the Saudi government’s Family Security Program, women can be brought before a court if a lawsuit is filed against them, the Independent reports. The committee was set up in 2005 seeking to improve access to social services.
There is no set punishment for this offense, as it is not covered by Islamic law. Therefore punishments come under judicial discretion, which can mean jail time.
“I would like to clarify that this subject involves the husband and the wife and it is a Ta’zir offence so it is possible that there would be a flogging, a fine, imprisonment, just signing a pledge or even nothing,” Al-Temyat told the Makkah newspaper, as cited by the Independent.
"It is a Ta'zir offence not identified legally, so the punishment is dependent on the damage caused from it. If there was no damage caused, there could be no punishment," the lawyer added.
Not surprisingly, the claims led to plenty of angry comments on social media, with users condemning the move.
“They [men] get annoyed with women ‘only’ checking her husband’s phone, whilst a woman lives all of her life in an ‘inquisition’. Whether that is regarding her clothing, sayings or behavior,” a female Twitter user wrote, as cited by the Independent.
At the end of April, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been granted unprecedented powers under the rule of his father, said Saudi Arabia isn't ready to allow women to drive cars, dismissing suggestions the ban would soon be lifted.
“So far society is not persuaded [by women driving] – and it has a negative influence – but we stress that it is up to Saudi society,” he said, adding that it is not “a religious issue as much as it is an issue that relates to the community itself that either accepts it or refuses it,” Gulf News reported.
Other restrictions faced by women in the ultra-conservative country include being forced to wear loose-fitting gowns and being barred from going anywhere without a chaperone.
They cannot open bank accounts, work in certain jobs, attend university, undergo medical procedures, or travel outside the country without permission from a male guardian – usually their husband or a relative.
Some of the country's most prominent clerics have cautioned against females driving, issuing religious decrees against it.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh recently said that allowing women to drive was a “dangerous matter that should not be permitted.” In 2013, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan said that females risked damaging their ovaries and producing children with clinical problems if they drove.