Mobile phones are truly amazing devices and the ways they are being used, well, nothing short of astounding. Who would have thought that they could be used to divorce one’s wife?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, your partner pays more attention to their iPhone or BlackBerry than you – grounds for divorce? Maybe you happen to spot some personal SMS  on your partner’s device, but they are not from you – more grounds for divorce? Worst of all, you find compromising photos of your partner with someone else – definite grounds for divorce?

These are all tangible ways a mobile device can bring about divorce but a report from Saudi Arabia puts all these in the shade. As reported in Cellular-News:

A court in Saudi Arabia has agreed to accept a divorce that was sent by text message,  a newspaper in the Gulf Kingdom reported over the weekend. The woman from the western town of Madina asked court to officially endorse her divorce and supported its complaint with the SMS from her husband.

“The husband told the judge he sent the message after an argument with his wife but that he did not mean to divorce her, but the judge considered the SMS as a real divorce under Islam and decided to support the wife’s plea for divorce.”

There have been previous attempts to divorce by SMS, although the only one we are aware of which had been successful until now, was in 2001 in the UAE.

In 2007, Malaysia’s Islamic Court fined a local politician US$145 for attempting to divorce his wife via SMS. Senator Kamaruddin Ambok had used the SMS to divorce his wife – but was given a stern lecture by Judge Zainor Hassin on the sanctity of marriage. In Malaysia, the divorce statement must be uttered inside an Islamic Court, so the SMS was not accepted.

However, mobiles can also be used a far more positive manner and not always as we intended. In one feel good story to start the year I would like to report on a health care application that is saving lives in Africa. It’s called ‘mobile banking’! CNN reports that one enterprising doctor in Tanzania has found a way to use mobile banking to save lives.

In a clinic in Dar es Salaam, Dr Robert Marenga is using his mobile phone to send money via SMS to Tanzanian women suffering from fistula — a highly-stigmatized condition that women can develop after a long, traumatic childbirth without proper medical care.

The money is used to pay for a patient’s bus ticket helping them travel from rural areas to Dar es Salaam, one of the few places where corrective surgeries are performed. Simple, yet brilliant!