Women in Saudi Arabia could be sent to jail and flogged if they check their husband’s phone without his knowledge and consent. The matter was not covered in the Kingdom’s Islamic laws, but would instead be seen as a violation of privacy, a report said on Saturday.
According to lawyer Mohammed Al-Temyat, who describes himself as a member of the Saudi government’s Family Security Programme, women can be brought before a court if a lawsuit was filed against them, the Independent reported. The committee was set up in 2005 seeking to improve access to social services.
There was no set punishment for this offence, as it is not covered by Islamic law. Therefore punishments come under judicial discretion, which can mean jail time.
“I would like to clarify that this subject involves the husband and the wife and it is a Ta’zir offence so it is possible that there would be a flogging, a fine, imprisonment, just signing a pledge or even nothing,” Al-Temyat told the Makkah newspaper, as cited by the Independent.
“It is a Ta’zir offence not identified legally, so the punishment is dependent on the damage caused from it. If there was no damage caused, there could be no punishment,” the lawyer added.
Not surprisingly, the claims led to plenty of angry comments on social media, with users condemning the move.
“They (men) get annoyed with women ‘only’ checking her husband’s phone, whilst a woman lives all of her life in an ‘inquisition’. Whether that is regarding her clothing, sayings or behaviour,” a female Twitter user wrote, as cited by the Independent.
Other restrictions faced by women in the ultra-conservative country include being forced to wear loose-fitting gowns and being barred from going anywhere without a chaperone.
Some of the country’s most prominent clerics have cautioned against females driving, issuing religious decrees against it.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh recently said that allowing women to drive was a “dangerous matter that should not be permitted”.
In 2013, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan said that females risked damaging their ovaries and producing children with clinical problems if they drove.