Justice Ministry deserves our applause



LOCAL newspapers celebrated the Justice Ministry’s successful endeavors to empower women and resolve their problems by taking four important decisions. We hope the move would reduce attempts to exploit women and weaken them. Ever since Dr. Walid Al-Samaani became the justice minister, he has been exerting continuous efforts to establish speedy justice.

We have noticed that Al-Samaani was trying to bring about positive changes. Even though the minister’s efforts have not yet resulted in realizing our ambitions, we can definitely point out that it’s moving in the right direction to accomplish the hopes and aspirations of citizens.

Over the past several years prominent personalities in the country have been calling upon authorities to prevent marriage of minors and fix a legal age for marriage. In response to those calls, the ministry has proposed 10 measures.

One of these measures has restricted the authority of giving permission for marriage of girls aged 17 and less to the court on the basis of the executive bylaw for the protection of children, which has clearly stated that any boy or girl aged less than 18 would be considered a child without exemption.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the justice minister for making a proposal to set up an alimony fund to support divorced women and their children and passing this proposal to the Cabinet. The minister will directly supervise the fund.

We expect such constructive and commendable moves from all ministers, as they should make such constructive proposals to the Cabinet to change the life of people for the better. The beautiful part of this decision is that the husband who has been ordered to pay alimony through a court verdict must refund the amount given by the alimony fund to support his wife and children.

However, we fear that the fund’s board of directors would fix the monthly alimony without considering the family’s actual requirement because it would undermine the fund’s noble objective. Several divorcees and their children have suffered in the past after authorities fixed monthly alimonies ranging between SR500 and SR800, which does not cover the requirements of children. At the same time, the authorities often ignore the need for an increase in alimony.

Another decision taken by the ministry demands justice to female lawyers, preventing highhandedness of male lawyers and law firms who often exploit the female lawyers’ need for training to obtain license required to practice the profession. Dr. Al-Samaani introduced a three-year diploma course in law, which will end up with the trainees receiving license to practice law.

Despite of the volume of optimism created by those decisions, we should not ignore certain apprehensions. There were several instances in the past that have made us skeptic, especially those related to child custody cases. I have noticed that three mothers were denied custody of their children and I was expecting the court would do justice toward them.

Court verdicts on some important cases that have taken place in recent past were disappointing. Violations have taken place even after court verdicts. Some issues do not reach courts, but even after reaching the court it does not make any difference to the ground reality.

When Justice Ministry’s advisers believed that proving child custody is the inevitable right of mothers and it required only the creation of an icon by the ministry’s electronic system in order to enable the court to issue an instant document proving custody without pleadings, the issue raised several questions such as why does the court demand evidence from the mother to prove her right to custody, while the father is not asked to present such evidences at times of divorce and custody disputes?

Is this from the leftovers of anti-woman stereotypes questioning her trust and behavior or what? What are the circumstances in which a mother goes to the court to prove child custody? I don’t know any mother other than divorcees or separated would do that. What will be the fate of women who are still deprived of child custody? I hope the ministry’s advisers would work on a decision that would rectify this pathetic situation and enable women to enjoy their inherent right?

How can we understand that proving custody right is a victory for women while the resolution has excluded dispute cases, although the majority of cases at courts are related to dispute on alimony and custody? If it were not the case, the alimony fund would not have been directly linked to the minister to alleviate the suffering of mother and children

If the ministry’s advisers are working to establish justice, how can they do it partially? Mothers who are denied of child custody deserve the ministry’s support to win their right to custody. There is another issue when people would be jailed if they fail to pay installments of bank loans.

Many of these people are victims of Article 77 of the Labor Law that allows employers to arbitrarily retrench workers. Such jobless people would not be able to pay installment of their bank loans. The question is how their imprisonment would enable banks to retrieve their money?

The justice system should consider these people as insolvent because they have become jobless. Why do they imprison an insolvent person for the court to issue a document for insolvency? If the insolvent is a woman who will prove her right or which fund would meet her expenses and who will take care of her children if she remained in jail without being able to pay her dues to the bank?