Starting Over… In Egypt?

February 11, 2010

Egyptian wives prefer Abuse than Divorce

As Egypt is an Islamic country, marriage and divorce submit to Islamic laws as they’ve been called.
The fact that this religion is meant to provide safety to women and guarantees all women’s rights is not strong enough to provide them with safe divorces. I have searched the law and searched those rules and I finally came up with an unpleasant conclusion: “The law is irrelevant to Islam, they are made by men, to serve men.”

Most Egyptian women prefer to stay in unhealthy marriages, and to raise their children in a corrupt atmosphere and perhaps even violent than to be divorced. The reason is clearly that a woman in Egypt has no second chance and starting over in this country is almost impossible for a woman depending on her husband.

A Muslim wife has the right to divorce her husband for any reason making her uncomfortable. Islamic law called Khul’ was once described as the easiest way for a woman to walk out of an unhappy marriage, or her free ticket to freedom and independence. However, Khul’ is a kind of divorce which requires a woman to abandon all her rights, to give her husband everything that he had given her such as cars, houses, gold, gifts – literally everything –  and to walk away empty handed with nothing to start over with. Khul’ became a man’s easiest way to walk out of a marriage without losing a dime, without worrying later about any of his ex wife’s rights.
Even though Islam directly orders husbands to let go of their wives and to not “hold them” when they seek divorce and to also give them their rights, husbands do make it harder on their wives to walk out with their chins high.
Most men who feel offended and rejected by their wives shoot back by making their lives even more miserable to the extent that they drive those women to start the khul’ process, regardless how humiliating it is for a man to be rejected, denied and given his “things” back for the sake of a wife’s freedom, men prefer to be cut lose this way than to be committed to the normal divorce expenses and to give their wives their financial rights.  
Nonetheless, desperate Egyptian wives choose khul’, they choose to walk out with nothing but a damaged and a scared broken woman although they are aware of their losses and they are aware that they do have rights to be taken but they simply prefer to abandon everything, to leave everything behind for the sake of their freedom and their peace of mind, and to even start over from below scratch.

Other women who are aware of this fact can’t start over and have nothing to start over with. There are no shelters in Egypt for beaten women and their children. There is no place to hide from a dangerous man, and there is nowhere to stay until a divorced woman can heal and start over, except her parents’ place or a friend’s place.
A woman who has nowhere to go deliberately chooses to remain married to an abusing man than to find herself out in the street with absolutely nothing to live on.

This is not the only reason why a married woman bears an unhappy marriage. The law also gives the husband full custody of the children once his ex wife remarries.
I have searched that rule and I tried to relate it in any possible way to Islam and it is absolutely irrelevant.
The reason why a father has the right to keep the children once their mother remarries is that the existence of a stepfather is dangerous for the kids. Especially for a daughter, her living with a strange man is unacceptable and threatening.
According to Islam though, a stepfather, the strange man, becomes what is called in Islam a “mehrem” to the daughter. A “mehrem” is a man which can not threaten a woman, a man who can protect her and a man who can take her out and help her out, so basically a woman should be safe with him, the “mehrem” is normally the father, the brother, the uncle, the grandfather, the nephew, the grandson etc – those men who can’t have a sexual relation with the woman- and finally, the “mehrem” is also the stepfather once married to her mother.

Based on this fact, a stepfather can’t be considered as a threat to a daughter once married to her mother, he can’t even marry the daughter after divorcing her mother so there is no point in keeping her safe from him. I still wonder what the law is based on now that the kids are safe with a stepfather, Islamic wise.
On the other hand, if the existence of a strange man in the house is to threaten the children’s safety, why doesn’t the existence of a strange woman in the house threaten them too, such as a stepmother?
In fact, a stepfather hardly deals with the children and he has no obligations toward them. Unlike the stepmother which is a housewife who’s in charge of the housework and of taking care of the kids. In other words, a stepmother deals with the children more than their father actually does, by law, she replaces the real mother and takes her responsibilities and plays her role.
Because by law, this is safer the children… somehow…

The law however gives the father or the ex husband, again, full control of his ex wife’s life even after divorce. Once a divorced woman decides to remarry, she faces a hard choice between her children and her new husband.

Another reason keeps abused women with their abusing husbands which is the lack of trust. I’ve spoken to many hurt wives wishing for their husbands’ death but not wishing for divorce. The words “I can’t leave him, he’s a bastard” echoed in my ears for so long and they sadly made sense to me after realizing what this corrupt system is consisted of.
Once divorce takes place and a mother has custody of her children until they reach the age where they can choose whom to live with, most ex husbands spend less money on the children and finances get worse.
A man’s pride is safe and if he fails to keep his power over his wife, he still finds a way to make her life miserable through their own children. Cases of this kind fill court rooms yet no results had brought peace back to a divorced mother and her children. The father doesn’t spend enough money on the children, thus they don’t fulfill all their needs, not as they used to when the family was all together.
Courts need documents to prove that the father makes enough money to spend a certain amount on the children, it takes even years to present those to court and to get a court order to get enough money from the ex husband to cover the children’s expenses.
Wives fear to take their kids a few steps lower – financially- and to make them go through hard times until such problems which are based on revenge and a man’s ego to be solved.
Also, ex husbands refuse to pay what they used to pay for the kids as they don’t trust their ex wives to spend the money where it needs to be spent.
Many men told me that they purposely reduced the amount of money they sent to their ex wives for their children because “she did it, she brought it on to herself and to her kids, it was her choice.”
It seems that most men still believe that they have the right to punish their women whether they were married to them or not.

Finally, such cases are not the trend in this country for I have met other people who managed to raise healthy children after divorce, some people which I can call “exceptions”.
Still, the fact that the system lacks correct rules and laws to guarantee a whole family’s sanity is the problem which threatens all houses. Those who don’t know what shall happen if divorce ever takes place wouldn’t risk it and so they choose to live caged in miserable marriages just because the law doesn’t show them any kind of a bright future after divorce. Not one single law guarantees the mother or the children’s safety, thus, the decision remains suspended for years, once taken it is considered as taking fatal risks, but it is hardly ever made due to the fear of the unknown future and of the unpredictable reaction of a rejected man’s anger.

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