A senior Saudi scholar has said that women are their own guardians and have the lawful right to manage all matters of life and personal affairs by themselves.
Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, went on to state that women are under the guardianship of men only at the time of marriage, and that women enjoy the same rights as men.
The senior scholar was responding to a campaign on Twitter in which many people, including lawyers and social activists, expressed their hopes that women’s guardianship would be dropped.
Responding to a question from a local publication on the issue of guardianship, he said: “Once a female is of a mature age, no guardianship is imposed on her, except in the case of marriage.”
He added: “Women are sensible and intelligent human beings who have the right to manage their financial affairs and appoint as proxy whoever they see fit to buy and sell on their behalf.”
He said: “Every lawful right men enjoy, women also enjoy and no guardianship should be imposed on them except in marriage because only the woman’s guardian or parent can give her hand in marriage.”
He explained that a mature woman is one who is able to perform the religious duties set out in Shariah, including prayers, fasting and Haj.
Saudi women agreed with the scholar’s opinion.
“I totally agree with what Al-Manea said regarding the matter of male guardianship,” said Layla Al-Muhammadi, a Saudi woman. “If men and women will be judged equally on the Day of Judgment, it is only logical for both to have at least the same liberties.”
Hayat Bakr, a Saudi university student, told Arab News that the form of male guardianship as it exists today implies that women are not able to make as good choices as men.
“This is not true. Women have proven their capabilities throughout history and in modern times as teachers, rulers of countries, businesswomen, and mothers.”
“Currently, Saudi women need a male guardian for almost all government and bureaucratic work which is a real obstacle that impedes the progress of women,” she added.