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Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

New Requirement Proposed for Pre-Marital Drug Screening to Enhance Family Security

In an effort to ensure clarity and transparency for both spouses and to relieve families of potential embarrassment, the Shura Council’s Committee for Islamic and Judicial Affairs is studying an amendment to the documentation system.
This modification would mandate drug testing for couples before marriage, providing clear information for both the husband and the wife and safeguarding family integrity.

Under the current documentation system, as per Article 33, marriage officiants must verify that all necessary conditions are met and no impediments exist before conducting the marriage contract. This includes confirming the presence of a legal guardian. Building on this foundation, it is proposed that an additional article be added to the system to require mandatory drug tests for prospective spouses. The proposal, put forward by council member Dr. Mohammad Al-Jarboua, is under review, with the committee set to present its report and recommendation.

The initiative highlights the importance of starting a family based on transparency for both parties. It aims to prevent the potential discomfort caused by undisclosed drug abuse, a factor that has been linked to a significant number of divorces and family breakdowns. Furthermore, enforcing mandatory pre-marital drug testing is viewed as a moral and educational deterrent for young men and women, raising awareness of the dangers drugs pose to their future.

The rationale behind the proposed amendment is supported by advancements in modern laboratory techniques for drug detection and precedents such as drug testing in sports competitions.

The Shura Council's Health Committee previously apologized for not accepting a recommendation addressing the concealment of certain diseases, behavioral issues, and drug and alcohol abuse within families. However, the committee justified its position, explaining that the Ministry of Health is coordinating with the National Strategic Committee for Genetic Diseases and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. A medical team is assessing which hereditary diseases should be added to the screening process, evaluating costs versus benefits, and considering challenges related to the accuracy and potential familial discord arising from drug testing and societal acceptance.

Reports: Drug Abuse as a Leading Cause of Divorce, Violence, and Family Breakdown

The Shura Council has demonstrated a commitment to family security by approving a 1434 recommendation from former council member Dr. Ahmad Saad Al-Mofreh. He called for a comprehensive medical examination for government job applicants to ensure they are free from drug abuse and mental disorders. Al-Mofreh also emphasized periodic and confidential assistance for employees found to be abusing drugs.

Psychiatric Illnesses and Drug Abuse

The council has consistently faced demands for drug and mental health screenings for couples intending to get married. A notable proposal was from former council member Dr. Iqbal Darandari, urging an expansion of the pre-marital medical examination program to include drug addiction analyses, psychiatric illnesses, and significant genetic diseases such as inherited forms of blindness and deafness. Darandari pointed out that studies in Saudi Arabia have identified gene mutations that are more prevalent than those currently targeted by pre-marital screenings, which now place a heavy financial and social burden on both the state and families. The importance of including such screenings became particularly apparent following a tragic incident three years ago when a bride was killed by her husband.

Financial Burden of Treatment

Dr. Darandari argued for the inclusion of drug testing for foreign nationals marrying Saudi women, extending the application to Saudi citizens for family protection. Despite the limited current scope of pre-marriage screenings, which mainly focus on inherited blood diseases and certain infectious illnesses, there is a need to regularly update the list of screenings to accommodate other prevalent and costly diseases.

Random Drug Testing

In 1436, the Shura Council discussed a proposal by former member Fahad bin Jumaa to amend the law to enforce regular and random drug testing in both the public and private sectors, as well as in educational institutions. While some committee members opposed the initiative, the minority opinion stressed the comprehensive nature of the testing and its importance in reinforcing the state's commitment to protecting all societal segments from the dangers of drugs.
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