Baby-making but no baby-naming: the plight of Saudi conception
By Samar Al-Miqrin
It is heart-wrenching that Saudi women do not have the right to name their newborn babies because, according to regulations and laws, only the father or one of his male relatives or the mother’s male relatives over the age of 17 have the authority to do that. So a mother who has carried her baby for months and given birth to it cannot name it. I do not understand this. Where are the advocates of women? Why are they not criticizing this system in the media?
A woman recently called me and explained her problem. She gave birth to a baby boy a year ago. Currently, the baby is being treated at a hospital due to some congenital problems. Her boy has not been given a name yet because his father has refused to do so due to marital problems. This means her baby does not have any official documents that prove who his parents are.
The woman cannot name the baby because the law does not allow it. The hospital where the baby is being treated says that the baby should be named in order to be able to continue receiving medical treatment. I can understand the hospital’s position because how can they treat a nameless baby.
Yet, what is really strange about these laws is that they give the district chief and the sheikh of a tribe the right to name a baby if his father or first-degree male relatives have not shown up to do so. But mothers, who spend sleepless nights taking care of their own flesh and blood, do not have the right, legally speaking, to name their baby. The law views mothers as incompetent. Therefore, any male member in the family is more competent than a mother when it comes to naming a baby, reporting a birth, and applying for a birth certificate.
How long will women remain silent and do nothing about these regulations? Women have reached high positions in business and in the government, but they still do not have the right to name their own children. Such regulations are no longer acceptable because women today are more aware of their rights. We see teenage girls clamoring for their rights and demanding that their rights be granted to them. Every year, female students graduate from law school. They possess the necessary tools to deal with to these regulations, which should be revoked.
It is against the Shariah to treat women as less competent than men. Roman and Greek laws used to regard women as incompetent. In France, the church used to view women as human beings who were born to serve men. This was before the revolution. However, Shariah states that men and women are equal.
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