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Riyadh soars with cases of Adhl — Ministry of Justice
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 12 - 2012

Haifa Al-Zahrani
Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH — The cases of Adhl (male guardians refraining marriage of women under their custody) in the Kingdom has been steadily on the rise.
According to the Ministry of Justice, Riyadh with 71 Adhl cases tops all other towns and cities in the Kingdom followed by Jeddah with 58 cases, Makkah 37, Dammam 22, Madinah 16, Hufof 8, Qatif and Abha six each, Taif and Kharj five each, Sakaka four, Buraidah three and Onaizah one.
With Adhl being the focus of debate in the Saudi society, lawyer and legal consultant Ahmed Bin Ali Al-Almaie, decided to stand in court for any woman who wished to file a lawsuit against her male guardian for refraining her from getting married.
“Adhl is non-Islamic, an abhorrent conduct, a regrettable practice which is totally unfair to women,” Al-Almaie said.
Al-Almaie said that Islam has given women all the rights, including the right to tie the knot with men of their own free choice, adding that men who follow old, ignorant traditions should not stand in the way of their daughters' marriage.
The lawyer believes that the main cause behind Adhl is avarice, where the male guardians want to retain the monthly salaries, distribution of property and others among themselves.
No strict punishments or stringent laws have been stipulated against males practicing Adhl on women.
“A common belief that prevails in our society is that the woman has no say in her marriage because she will bring shame to the family if she expresses any such desires,” Al-Almaie said.
Women whose male guardians prevent them from getting married should not hesitate to go to the court with a ‘Mahram' (male relative), where the judges could marry them to the men of their choice, he explained.
Al-Almaie said that if women go to the courts with their ‘Mahram' then they would not be disobeying their parents.
However, Al-Almaie advises, that before knocking the doors of the courts, the woman should make sure that her male guardians were completely against her marriage without any logical reason.
And if the woman has a prospect in mind then she should also make sure that he is a suitable match.
“The brothers or uncles of the woman should write an official letter to the judge requesting him to marry the woman to the man of her choice. “If she does not have male siblings or uncles, the man and woman can both write to the judge who will marry them,” he said.
In an official letter to Saudi Gazette, the Ministry of Justice explained the method of proving Adhl cases in the courts.
The letter stated: “The girl should go to the concerned Sharia court and file an Adhl case against her father or male guardian.
“After which, the judge will fix an appointment and issue a subpoena to the male guardian to attend the session.
“The judge will listen to both sides and if he finds that the girl is right, he will relieve the man of his guardianship rights.
“Regarding her marriage, the judge will look at the interest of the woman.
“If he sees that another male relative is worthy of the guardianship, he will give it to him.
“Otherwise the judge will himself assume the role of the guardian and marry the girl.
Dr Adil Abdulaziz, a researcher in social behavior and family matters, said that the cases of Adhl in Saudi Arabia have remarkably increased during the recent years.
He said there are three kinds of males who practice Adhl: a father who wants to benefit from his unwed daughters' services or income; or he who doesn't care about his daughters and wants them to suffer psychologically; or he may be a psychopath who feels that his daughter is his unquestionable property, who he is not willing to give away to another man.
Abdulaziz said violence is not only physical; it is also emotional and financial abuse.
He added that Adhl can have adverse effects on women. “A girl who is prevented by her father or male guardian from getting married may go astray to fulfill her emotional and physical needs.
“She may also become psychosomatic with psychological and physical diseases which doctors will find difficulty to diagnose,” he said.
Abdulaziz warns that besides mental and psychological consequences, Adhl might cause a number of physical diseases including ulcer, diabetes, hypertension and brain strokes.
“Another negative result of Adhl is family disintegration. The family may break up when a daughter files a lawsuit against her farther accusing him of Adhl,” he said.
Abdulaziz does not believe in making a girl wait to get her married to her cousin or some other close male relative because this is also a type of Adhl.
“This may come under the title of indirect violence against women or the use of male chauvinism which is common in some tribes,” he said.
Religious researcher Abdullah Al-Alyout is of the opinion that the feeling of ownership by men over their daughters was the main cause behind Adhl.
He said the cases of Adhl would drastically drop if women were given the right to marry themselves.
“In our culture, even the highly educated women can not marry themselves or their daughters. They have to have a male, even if he is illiterate, to do this for them,” he said.
Al-Ayout said if the woman was considered an independent and rational person, the problems of Adhl would never take place.

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