RIYADH — The recently-introduced fingerprinting system to identify women who come to court has put an end to the exploitation of women at the hands of mahrams (male relatives a woman cannot legally marry) or criminals seeking to impersonate them.
The decision by the Ministry of Justice to introduce a fingerprinting system in the Kingdom’s courts has been met with wide acceptance by women as well as judges and lawyers. Previously, judges had to summon guardians or witnesses to ascertain the identity of any woman who had to appear before the court.
Hayat, a 32-year-old Saudi, applauded the new system and recalled how her husband got another woman to appear in court, steal her identity and relinquish her custody rights. His plan fell through, however, when the judge grew suspicious of the woman.
Faten Al-Montashri believes the implementation of a fingerprinting system will not only prevent abuse of the system but make it easier for women to appear in courts.
"I was always at the mercy of my relatives and their willingness to accompany me to courts. However, it has now possible to expedite court cases and clear many pending cases,” she said.
Since judges could not ask women to uncover their faces, any woman who had to appear in court had to bring witnesses who could identify her, leaving the system open to abuse. In one case, the brothers of a divorced woman manipulated the system to deprive her of her inheritance.
Saadaa Abdullah said the implementation of the fingerprinting system is not only a step forward for women’s rights, but it also preve
nts exploitation by male guardians and ensures that they are protected against forgery and fraud.
Echoing the same view, legal consultant Mohammad Al-Wehaibi said the new system will combat all forms of errors, fraud and forgery. He called for a backup system to be made available in case the fingerprinting system is out of order.