Saudi Courts Rule Woman Cannot Marry Male Suitor Because He Plays Musical Instruments
Saudi Arabia has tried to change the public perception of women’s rights in the country, but some have accused the country of merely pushing a PR campaign and not instituting real change.
A lower court and an appeals court in Saudi Arabia have condemned a man as “religiously unfit for marriage” because he plays a musical instrument. The man proposed to marry a Saudi woman, but the woman’s family ruled that the man is religiously unfit to marry their daughter because he plays an instrument. The woman who is in love with the suitor took the matter to the courts but they ratified her family’s decision.
Women in Saudi Arabia must obtain permission from their fathers, senior brothers, husbands or male relatives before they can marry. The male guardians must approve of the male suitor before the marriage plans can proceed. Male guardians must also consent to it before women can travel, engage in business or undertake any major tasks.
In the ultra-conservative kingdom, men who play musical instruments are regarded as inferior in some regions. The public perception is that they are not responsible, prompting some high-class families to decline when they propose to their daughters.
In this case, the man is a schoolteacher and also plays the oud, an oriental lute often played throughout the Arab world. The unnamed woman is a 38-year-old bank manager. She holds a masters degree and is responsible for over 300 employees in her bank. She described the man in question as “very pious and with a good reputation.”
When the man first proposed two years ago, the woman’s family objected because he played a musical instrument. So the woman took the matter to the local court in Qassim, a region north of Riyadh, the capital of the kingdom.
The court sided with the family, stating that “because the suitor plays a musical instrument he is unsuitable for the woman from a religious point of view.” So the woman headed to the court of appeals, but the higher court ratified the verdict of the lower court. She has sworn to take her case further to the “highest authorities” in Saudi Arabia, meaning the royal court.
The Saudi kingdom has been trying to change the perception of women’s rights in the country. Just last year, women were allowed to begin driving cars. However, some have accused the country of merely pushing a PR campaign and not instituting significant and meaningful change.