Saudi sheikhs call for suitors to background check their brides-to-be
Criminal background checks for marriages could become legal in Saudi Arabia.
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The Justice Ministry is considering a proposal to provide maadouns (sheikhs who officiate marriages) with details from the judiciary, social, or security records of any person seeking to get married before they sign a marital contract.
The ministry said that any individual party to the marital contract could have access to the information in the records. A formal letter to the maadoun would suffice to obtain information about a suitor’s criminal past. The person could then decide whether to sign the marital contract or not.
The proposal will be subjected to a study. The ministry said that no person other than one who is a party to a marital contract could have access to the private information. And this shall be with the knowledge and approval of the other party to the contract.
Although the step might appear as a great precautionary procedure, some sheikhs think otherwise.
Zahir Al-Ghamdi, a maadoun, told Arab News that this can be a problem to many people.
“It is important to make sure that the guy proposing to my daughter doesn’t have any criminal issues especially with drugs,” Al-Ghamdi said. “But when I look at it as young guy who has committed some mistakes years back, this would be an obstacle. Young people usually go off the right path but most of them seek to turn to a new clean phase in their life by getting married. God likes to hide His worshippers’ sins. Why would we highlight people’s secrets?”
Ahmad Al-Malki, vice chairman of Lawyers’ Committee at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the regulation may reduce the rate of divorce cases in courts.
The regulation would be associated with regulated penalties for those who breach it and compensations for those harmed emotionally and socially as a result of the breach, said Al-Malki.
Suhaila Zinalbideen, member of the National Society for Human Rights, stressed that deterring penalties should be in the articles of such a regulation given the damages that could result in case of violating it. The study is part of the ministry’s project to reform and develop the judiciary, she said.
By Marwa Haddad
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