Saudi women are now permitted to apply for their own personal identification cards without the consent of a male guardian, the Arab News reported today.
The Civil Status Administration confirmed that the new regulation became official two weeks ago. Women were granted the right to their own picture ID four years ago, but the application required the consent of a male guardian.
Women are taking advantage of the new regulations and getting their IDs, many for practical reasons. For years, Saudi courts and legal proceedings have required that two men – not necessarily close relatives – bear witness to a woman’s identity, a method that has opened the door to fraud and embezzlement.
With the risk of fraud, banks began demanding that a woman provide picture ID in order to open an account. Women without a picture ID were required to bring a close male relative to open the account for them. The same inconvenient, impractical method applied to women who wanted to trade in stocks and shares or obtain a stock portfolio.