Saudi women to get ID cards by 2006

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Every Saudi woman by mid-2006 should have an Identity Card with her face on it.

Hissah Al-Suwaileh, the head of Women's Civil Status Department in Riyadh, confirmed that Saudi women will no longer rely on passports (for the lucky few) or family cards (that just listed their names) to prove their identity. In both cases, a male guardian had to be present to vouch and countersign for women. Now, "in less than a year and a half all Saudi women must have their own ID cards," said an official at the Interior Ministry who preferred to remain anonymous.

Saudi Arabia is governed by a strict Islamic theocratic regime inspired by one of today's most rigid forms of Islamic fundamentalism known as Wahhabism. Women's rights are what shari'a law allows. (LF)