Riyadh: in 'blood money' equality between men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims

The proposal by some Shura Council members within the plan to reform the Civil Transitions Law. A change aimed at equalizing Saudi Arabia with other Gulf monarchies in terms of rights. Proposal illustrates support for reform found in passages of the Quran. 

Riyadh (AsiaNews) - Some Shura Council officials plan to add a new paragraph to the draft reform of the Civil Transactions Law, which prohibits discrimination between men and women, and between Muslims and non-Muslims, in compensation for a crime (the so-called blood money), according to the Saudi Gazette newspaper.

The paper reports government sources according to which the Code amendment is part of a broader framework of reforms traceable to four framework laws sought in February 2021 by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (Mbs.): on personal status; the Civil Transactions Law; the Criminal Code on the subject of penalty discretion; and the burden of proof rule.

The signatories of the initiative are Latifa Al-Shaalan, Faisal Al-Fadel and Atta Al-Subaiti. They call for adding a postilla to Article 138 of the Code's section on civil transactions being studied by the Shura Council, the formal advisory body of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy in which power is in the hands of the royal family. The text of the amendment reads, "It is prohibited to show discrimination in the amount of compensation in a felony against a person on the basis of gender, religion, or any other forms of discrimination.”

The basis of the reform project is the discrepancies in the judiciary in the assessment of compensation sums in bloody affairs, whether the victim is a man or a woman, or whether he or she professes Islamic religion or other faiths. An element that still diversifies the Wahhabi kingdom from other monarchies in the region and the vast majority of countries in the world. According to the promoters, the reform contributes to the empowerment of women and in the promotion of human rights and the values of tolerance, moderation and quality of life, in line with major international conventions and charters to which Riyadh has adhered. 

In announcing and supporting the reform project, the promoters also look for shores within the Quran and the holy heads of Islam, because even in the Book, they say, when it talks about the "blood money" (revenge), no difference is made between men and women. The death of a woman at the hands of a man, they stress, must apply when the killing of a man by a woman. And even a non-Muslim "deserves the same treatment" as a Muslim in terms of compensation when it comes to acts of bloodshed. 

In recent weeks, top government officials had unveiled the rule that is expected to reform personal status, which is scheduled to take effect within 90 days. The new law would change some norms related to patriarchy, including male guardianship. Women would no longer have to ask permission from the man-father, husband or brother-to travel or marry and would have greater guarantees in case of divorce.

They would also be able to become legal guardians of their children, claiming the right to alimony and child care. The law preserves the offspring's bloodline and regulates marriage, from engagement to divorce at khul'aa [the wife's intent].