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Apr 20, 2010


From an article by Robin Marty: Saudi Arabian Women May Soon Have Right To Be Lawyers:

"Like any child, when I read 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and other such books, I became excited at the thought of being a lawyer one day," Hejailan said in an e-mail interview. "I do see myself arguing cases on child custody, divorce and other family-related issues, once women are allowed to do so."

For so long it seemed like the news that came out of Saudi Arabia for women was all bad. First there was the woman who was imprisoned for having coffee with a man, then the woman who was whipped for being seen in public without a guardian, and the Canadian woman who was being held in the country against her will... 
The rules against women in the country are by far some of the most extreme in the world, but finally there is a glimmer of hope that some of this may be changing.
   Critics point out that the King of Saudi Arabia had recommended adapting rules as far back as 2004, in an effort to comply with the 2000 United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) rules, and that very little progress has been made in spite of his alleged encouragement.
   But should new a new law pass, something that many women in the legal field feel might be more likely based on multiple law schools now allowing women students, it could mean a turn around in the way the society has used courts to subjugate and punish women. 
   Currently, a woman can only go to court with her guardian present, a rule that would change should women be allowed to become full lawyers.  The female lawyer would then be able to act in lieu of guardian for the female client, allowing her more freedom to access the court or, especially in the case of the woman who was lashed for being in public without a guardian, to be able to go to police or file complaints if the legal issue involves her incarcerated spouse.
-----------------------------------------------------
Tala Hejailan, a 25-year-old Saudi, is the only female lawyer in a commercial law practice in Riyadh. She sits in her own area, separate from colleagues and superiors, only meeting with them for pressing legal matters.
  
Since she is restricted from acting on behalf of clients in court because she is a woman, she--like other female law graduates--serves as a legal consultant.
   But the promise of a new law offers the hope of fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a "real lawyer." 
---------------------------------------------
In February, Saudi Arabia's
justice minister announced that
the government is planning to
draft a law allowing female
lawyers to try family law cases
in court
.
---------------------------------------------
The law is far from a done deal, however, as it would then need to survive various ministerial approvals and be signed into law by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. The king can also unilaterally adopt a law without ministerial approvals.
   Female lawyers and law students say the Saudi government has been talking about this proposal for several years and they hope the February announcement signifies that passage will be coming soon.
   "Like any child, when I read 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and other such books, I became excited at the thought of being a lawyer one day," Hejailan said in an e-mail interview. "I do see myself arguing cases on child custody, divorce and other family-related issues, once women are allowed to do so."
   The ability to represent women, she says, will likely help many women who currently go to court without any legal representative and argue their own cases.
   "Being represented by a professional female lawyer with whom these women can speak to freely will help achieve the required outcomes," Hejailan said.
-----------------------------------------------
It is a small step, but, should it
occur, it is a very important one
in the process to allowing
women the same rights as a
man in the country.  

-------------------------------------------------
Read more: womens rights, saudi arabia, sharia law 
Robin Marty's article click here (add comments!) 
C2NN article click here 

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Posted: Apr 20, 2010 3:28am

 

 
 
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Thubten Chokyi
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