Saudi Arabia has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). However, it has made general reservations to the effect that where there is a conflict between a Convention article and Islamic Law principles, Islamic Law shall have precedence. The family law rights of women and children in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been criticised for not reaching the standards set by CEDAW and CRC. This article looks at the internationally set standards of these rights and compares them with the Family Law rules of Islamic Law as applied in Saudi Arabia. The applications in Saudi Arabia are then examined by looking at certain practices, case judgments and recent developments in the country in this field. Amongst these developments are the first case in which a Saudi judge annuls a child's marriage, the first death sentence declared on a father who abused his daughter causing her death, and the Saudi Divorce Initiative which aims to educate women and call for the protection of their rights during marriage and after its dissolution. The article stresses that despite the many improvements, there remains a need for codifying the Islamic Law of Personal Status in Saudi Arabia as this measure would be the basis that defines and protects the rights of women and children in Family Law.
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