Saudi Arabia Justice Minster Walid Al-Samaani has directed marriage officials to get the verbal approval of the bride herself before concluding the marriage contract, in an attempt to protect women's rights and end forced marriages.

The minister instructed the courts and marriage officials that the woman’s verbal agreement was required under Shariah law and that no one could offer it on the bride’s behalf.

Samaani said that Article 14 required officials to insure that all conditions of the contract were met before approving the marriage, while Article 23 instructs that the ma'zoon must register all details in the marital records with both parties’ signatures.

He also added that mazouns should have the approval of the woman herself and not any one else who may claim to be her representative, even if it is her father.

Adel Al-Jehni – a family counselor – has told Sharek al-Awsat newspaper that this decision was issued due to several cases of forced marriage and forgery where the bride's cousin signed on her behalf.

This thread started a controversy among the Saudis on Twitter which got this hasghtag #صوت_المراه_شرط_لعقد_النكاح (women's verbal approval is a necessity to the marriage contract) trending.

Some said that this is just one of the very basic rights a woman could be granted

"This hashtag is frustrating .... women are being granted official positions and governing countries... while these still require verbal acceptance to wed her into marriage"

Others found it as susceptible to forgery, and the solution would be to require the bride's thumb print

Others where doubtful and asked "how would the ma'zoon recognize the bride's voice?"

While some had some other suggestions that would protect the bride's right

"The verbal approval alone is not enough! ID of the bride should be required as well, to make sure there is no forgery"

And in a poll conducted by this page the results showed 75% of the voters were in favor of the decision

This story originally appeared at YallaFeed in Arabic.