Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Justice will no longer be applying a law that forces women who leave their marital homes to go back to their husbands, Okaz newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Under the latest decision, Saudi legislators stated they will refer to article 75 of the kingdom's laws when dealing with divorce cases from now onwards. The article states that "sentences forcing a woman to return to her marital home shall not be applied".
According to Okaz, a husband whose wife refuses to go back home after asking for a divorce will now be faced with two options, either to divorce her amicably or have the case transferred to court.
The decision to pass the most recent order has been in the works for a long time and is now making headlines across the kingdom. It comes at a time when Saudi women's rights have been significantly improving.
The news is also going viral on Saudi Twitter
Hundreds are now reacting to the decision under a hashtag titled "house of obedience," which is the name of an outdated law that allows husbands to force their wives back home.
Speaking to Al Arabiya's Tafa3ol Com show, a Saudi lawyer explained that even though a law forcing women to return to their husbands was previously applied in the kingdom, the way it is being reflected on social media is over-exaggerated.
"People are talking about this in a way that makes it seem as if this house of obedience is an actual place that exists in Saudi Arabia. They're describing it as a place where women are taken if they ask for a divorce and that is absolutely not true," he said.
"In previous years, if a husband refused to amicably divorce his wife, the woman would be asked to return to her marital home voluntarily at first. If she refused to do so after being spoken to three times, she would then be escorted back to her marital home by police officers," he explained.
Regardless of how the law was previously applied though, it is now officially illegal to force a woman to return to her husband after she asks for a divorce in Saudi Arabia, and to many, the news is overwhelmingly positive.
Saudi women are celebrating the news
"I am elated."
Many hailed the move
"This is an excellent decision."
"I'm very proud of this decision"
"Thank God, this regressive law does not suit us"
"It's so frustrating to even imagine someone forcing me to live with a man I can no longer stand"
"I just learned that a woman could previously be forced to return to her husband. It's great that they made this move. It's so frustrating to even imagine someone forcing me to live with a man I can no longer stand."