JEDDAH — The Civil Affairs has confirmed allowing women to register their children and get birth certificates issued without the need of a male guardian as long as the mother brings her national identity and family cards at the time of registration.
But single mothers continue to suffer because of irresponsible fathers and a system that doesn’t provide alternatives or solutions.
Obtaining a national identity card for women is now becoming a necessity, Civil Affairs spokesman Mohammed Al-Jasser was quoted as saying in a section of the Arabic press. So far it’s not mandatory for women to have a national identity card, but it is required in all official and bank transactions. Women can get a national identity card from the age of 15 years by presenting two female representative witnesses who have national identity cards, and not necessarily a male guardian. However, women are still under the control of their male guardians who decide whether to allow them to work, study, travel, or undergo certain medical procedures.
Duha, a 33-year-old single mother of one, said that allowing mothers to have authority over their children is vital. “Banks don’t open savings accounts for children without their father’s signature. So a mother wont be able to open an account, and even if she did, the father has the authority to close or/and withdraw money from these accounts even if she is the one saving the money,” said Duha.
“I’m also with removing the male guardian system as in my case, for example, my father is an old man, and my brothers are all abroad,” she said.
Sarah, a 34-year-old single mother of two, said that issuing a birth certificate to the mother is a basic right. “I got divorced after giving birth to my second son and it took my ex-husband six months to finalize paper work. I could have done it myself in one day,” she said.
Fatima Al-Ali, also a single mother, said that she is divorced and her father is dead. “I have a younger brother who is now studying in the US. I have to wait for his visit once a year to do all official paper work,” she said.
Al-Ali said that if they want to keep the male guardian system they should come up with alternative arrangements instead of making things complicated. “Our guardian was my uncle but he also has his family to take care of. I’m lucky to have a brother, but what about those who don’t,” she said.