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Saudi women’s group mounts campaign to scrap legal rep rule

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Summary of story from Arab News, October 4, 2011

A group of Saudi businesswomen are campaigning for all government departments to scrap the requirement for a male legal representative when processing paperwork and other related business.

The Commerce Ministry has already agreed to change its rules after the campaigners started their initiative in 2009, but it appears other government departments have not followed suit.

Alya Banaja, the campaign coordinator for western provinces, said: “It was basically a campaign for businesswomen who face many obstacles while managing their business because of the need for a male legal representative.”

She added: “We expected the ministries to coordinate between themselves and that we did not have to address every ministry separately.”

The campaign is putting together a letter to the Council of Ministers demanding all ministries scrap the male legal representative rule and a system is implemented where ministries coordinate with each other to ensure any changes in regulations are implemented across the board.

A specialist in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) issues, Sheikh Abdullah Fadaq confirmed that there is no such demand in Islamic law for a male legal representative.

“People get mixed up when distinguishing between a legal guardian and legal representative. While the former is compulsory, the latter is not part of the Shariah,” Fadaq told Arab News.

Voicing his support for the campaign he added:  “It should be optional for women to appoint a legal representative or not, as in some cases representatives can take advantage of and betray their trust.”

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