Why marriages in Egypt are becoming disposable?


By: Alexandra Kinias —

Marriage is a partnership with shared responsibilities. But in Egypt, women’s share exceeds that of their partners’. Most Egyptian men, pampered and spoilt by their mothers, expect a wife’s role to be an extension of their mother’s, but with benefits. So, while many proceed with their immature bachelor lifestyle, women take responsibility of the house and kids, and work a full time job. As the concept of family is distorted in the minds of many men, most women complain that their husbands rarely, if ever, help with the house chores or spend time with the kids. Men fail to comprehend that their availability in the lives of their wives and kids is part of their marital responsibility. As women invaded the work force and became financially independent, they are looking for a life partner who values them, not just to impregnate and feed them.

Rarely a woman seeks divorce because of a husband’s lack of responsibility towards the house or kids. For centuries, such responsibilities had befallen upon the shoulders’ of women and they are used to them anyway. Resentful and frustrated with their selfishness and irresponsibility, women’s tolerance dwindles. And when other factors enter the equation, divorce becomes the solution for many.

However, women are not to be spared the blame for failed marriages. Many women tie the knot for the wrong reasons, on top of which is to avoid the societal discrimination against unmarried women. For many women marriage is merely a social status. In a society that glorifies marriage, they prefer a divorced status over being single. Women’s unrealistic expectations of marriage are also a contributing factor to the failure of many. Marriage is a real life story and setting their standards to Hollywood romantic movies inevitably leads to divorce. Some women create in their minds a fairytale image about marriage that is detached from reality. And when reality doesn’t meet their expectations, they feel betrayed.

True, the absence of love may be the cause to terminate a marriage, but love alone doesn’t sustain one. Marriage is not all butterflies and rainbows, but also problems, conflicts, routine, boredom and a lot of dirty diapers. Marriage comes with no guarantees, but divorce comes with lots of consequences, especially when kids are involved. For many Egyptian women it is a dilemma to whether stay miserable in a failed marriage or divorce and face the societal challenge that comes with the new status. It is just like jumping from the fire to the frying pan, as the cliché goes.

After decades of oppression, women resort to divorce instead of mending the relationship, because unlike their mothers and grandmothers, now they can. Divorce became the easiest and fastest remedy to most marital problems, but it is not always the solution and it should be the last option when everything else fails. It is not an easy decision to make, but often it is inevitable.

Marriage is becoming disposable to many young couples. They don’t take the time or make an effort to fix it, but rather throw it away like a broken appliance. Even if divorce is your decision, be prepared for the heartache, confusion, sleepless nights, and fears of an uncertain future. Divorce is a painful and messy process, an end to an emotional journey of years traveled together. Nothing can be more heartbreaking and devastating than to watch your life tumbles down in front of your eyes. Don’t rush for a divorce unless you are in an abusive situation. Don’t run away from your marriage until you have tried hard to salvage it. The time and love you invested in building your life together is definitely worth fighting for.

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In the Name of the Gods

— By: Alexandra Kinias —

Article published “Zamalek Island 11211 Magazine” November 2015


The relationship between humans and gods dates back to the beginning of time. People of ancient civilizations created the mythologies and worshiped their multiple deities. Mythologies are the cultural evolutions of these civilizations. They are the stories of the gods that answered the speculative curiosity that intrigued the people. They explained to them the mysteries of the creation, the origin of humans, the good and the evil, life and death, the underground world, the afterlife and the supernatural forces that their primitive minds couldn’t comprehend.

In his book The Evolution of God, Robert Wright explains that gods arose as illusions, and that subsequent history of the idea of god is, in some senses, the evolution of the illusions1. In other words, people created the gods they worshiped, and with the powers man gave to these gods, religions were developed.

The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, Mesopotamians, Sumerians, Indians, Chinese, Aztecs, Incas, Polynesians, Mayans and others were polytheists. And as writing systems were developed in ancient civilizations, the records left behind; on clay tablets in Mesopotamia, on papyrus in Egypt and Greece or on turtle shells and bones in China, enabled anthropologists to study the evolution of religions. The damage by the early European invaders to the Americas destroyed the Mayan and Aztec records and left many unanswered questions about these civilizations and their gods.

Each god or goddess in the mythologies played an important role. In ancient Greece, Persephone was the goddess of the underworld.

Throning_goddess_(Persephone)_480-460_BC_(Sk_1761)_1 (1)

Persephone on her throne in the underworld.

Ishtar, the patron deity of prostitution in Mesopotamia, was also thought to help wives conceal their adultery2.


Ishtar, the patron deity of prostitution in Mesopotamia, was also thought to help wives conceal their adultery.

Horus, son of Isis and Osiris in the Egyptian mythology was the god of the sky and the divine protector of kings.

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Horus, son of Isis and Osiris in the Egyptian mythology was the god of the sky and the divine protector of kings.

Angi, the most important Hindu deity in the Vedic Mythology, was the god of fire.


Angi, is a Hindu deity, one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire .

Gods were created because human nature has the need to believe in a higher power, and they communicated with the people through high priests and shamans. In ancient Polynesia people believed that the chiefs, who were also the priests, were descendant of the gods3. Priests in ancient civilizations drafted the early recorded religions. In the name of the gods, priests dictated the ethical and moral guides that shaped and organized the lives of the people, from loving the neighbor, to not to steal or urinate on crops4.  And from these moral and ethical guides religions emerged.

The wrath of the gods was sent to those who disobeyed and angered them. Gods punished the people by sending storms, floods, rain, fires, volcanos, or hurricanes. The high priests realized people’s fear and exploited them. They claimed they possessed powers to manipulate and control the supernatural and communicate with the gods to lift their wrath, for a price. Bribing the gods, also known as offerings, was a common trait in ancient civilizations. Offerings to appease the gods included bread, wine, grain, food, gold, animal or human sacrifices.

Because ancient civilizations were polytheists, people were neither threatened by the deities of the neighboring tribes and lands, nor did they view them as competitors. In these societies, life revolved around the gods as religions became an important part of people’s lives. In today’s world and with the rise of monolithic religions, many cultures integrated their ancient gods and beliefs with modern religions. In Cusco, Peru, the capital of the Inca Empire, and despite the strong influence of the Catholic Church, the Andean natives proudly claim their Incas’ heritage and still celebrate their ancient religious rituals.  “Catholicism was not the religion of our choice, but was forced upon us,” they explained to me when I questioned the biblical art adorning their church walls. In Peruvian churches to this day, Virgin Mary wears a big cape to look like Pachamama, who in the Inca mythology is the goddess of earth, also known as Mother Earth.


Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. She is also known as the earth/time mother.

As ancient Gods are mortals, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still walking among us today. Look into the faces of people around you in the subway, in the supermarket, among the crowds in stadiums watching their football team playing the world cup. They have lost their divine status, but their efforts to organize the order of the world should not be overlooked.

References: Robert Wright, The Evolution of God; pages 4,70,53,78 respectively.

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Prince Charming and the “M” word


— By: Alexandra Kinias —

In Disney’s fairytales the handsome Prince fall in love with lumber jack’s daughter he meets in the forest. And after the Prince asks for her hand in marriage, they ride together into the sunset on his white horse. The birds chirp, the butterflies dance to the romantic song at the end of the movie, and the royal couple lives happily ever after. The fairytale romance leaves us with misty eyes and a happy heart filled with hope that our prince charming lives a few castles away.

We love happy endings even though they alter the perception of reality in young girls’ minds. And unlike fairytales, princes in real life fall out of love. Left with low self-esteem while battling pangs of rejection, the broken heart ex-princesses wonder what happened to the promises of the eternal love they heard on their rides into the sunsets.

Since it takes two to tango, men constitute half of the equation in any relationship. Rarely the innocent party, yet it’s unrealistic to throw the entire blame on their shoulders. Women share the responsibility for the failure of the relationship. In many cases, they misinterpret men’s behaviors and become victims of their own misconceptions. They cling to failed relationships to avoid or postpone confrontations that lead to the painful, yet, inevitable truth.

Most women fall in love with the intention to get married. Other than the obvious reasons to settle down and start a family; fear of loneliness, financial support or gain, or a change of status also plays a role in the decision making. In societies that glorify marriage, where girls grow up to believe that it is women’s ultimate dream, and where unmarried middle aged women are looked down on, staying single is not a choice. In these societies, women marry because of social, peer and family pressure.


On the other hand, men seek relationships for different reasons. Both curious and confused, men on one hand want to learn more about the women they meet, but on the other, they have no idea what they want out of the relationship. An interest to know you better doesn’t automatically translate that your date is ready to commit. No one knows for sure what goes on in men’s minds. Most men avoid commitment for as long as they can get by with it. Who knows? They could be waiting for scientists to discover life in another galaxy to plan the honeymoon. The point is that it doesn’t matter because in the world we live in women are on the receiving end of the engagement ring. And because of that women invest more time and emotions into relationships.  And as their expectations are higher than men’s, they are more affected by the dynamics, outcomes and disappointments of the relationships.

In pursue for an engagement ring, women ignore the flaws in their partners in hope to win their hearts. But winning their heart is not always enough reason for men to propose. And if pressured to do so, while not yet emotionally or mentally ready to settle down, men’s reaction often backfires and they withdraw. It’s important for women to pay close attention to changes in men’s behavioral patterns. If a man is busy to call or answer your call, breaks promises, plays games, becomes discreet or simply unavailable, it is time to re-evaluate the relationship and not to defend or justify his behavior.  No one is busy, but it is a matter of priority. Men find time for whatever is important to them. But because love is addictive, women ignore the neon signs flashing in front of their eyes urging them to run away. Some waste years clinging to emotionally unfulfilling relationships in anticipation that the men will change. Unfortunately, they won’t.

The failure of Princess Diana’s marriage, the modern day fairytale, proved to the world that fairytales Princesses neither live in the real world nor fall in love with real men. But that doesn’t mean that princes no longer exist. They are out there living in the real world. They get caught in traffic; they have bad days at the office and agonize when their football team loses.

Once women realize that princes are humans and they don’t live in fairytales, it’s important to approach the relationship with more realistic expectations. And most important, they should not lower their standards.

If you want to meet a prince, then you better behave like a princess.

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Divorce in Egypt may actually be a healthy sign


Photo copied from the Internet

— By: Alexandra Kinias — The concern by many over the soaring divorce rates between young couples in Egypt may be argued by others as a healthy phenomenon. Shocking as it sounds to some, but these rates suggest that young couples are rebelling against the obsolete rules and regulations that had once governed and shaped the fate of their parents and grandparents, and forced women to stay in dysfunctional marriages against their wishes. And with the increasing rate of divorce, marriage counselling, a novelty to the society, is thriving.  Marriage counseling is also a positive indication that marital problems that were once concealed and contained behind closed doors and endured in silence, mainly by women, are no longer accepted, nor viewed as shameful taboos, as once believed to be.

Seeking professional counseling as opposed to older family member’s intervention, to help young couples solve their problems, shows the rejection of these couples to the old rules, terms, conditions and band aid solutions.  Also marriage counselors act independently with no bias solutions that mostly put the blame, responsibility and the burden to salvage the marriage on the shoulders of women.

Many blame the young couples’ irresponsibility in dealing with life’s issues for the failure of  their marriages, quite an unfair accusation. Dysfunctional marriages existed since the beginning of times, but until recently women suffered in silence, unable to terminate their misery, and many still don’t for various reasons. Because of the belief that divorce may harm the kids, mothers choose to stay in abusive marriages, unaware of how the toxic atmosphere of an unhappy marriage negatively impacts their kids’ emotional balance.

Before the new divorce laws that granted women the right to divorce and keep the house, if the kids are underage, non working women with no source of income stayed married for financial reasons and in fear to end up homeless. And with the loose alimony and child support laws, not all families were ready for the extra expenses of a divorced daughter and grandkids. The irony, however, was that even women who could afford a divorce, still couldn’t get one. It was a right granted only to men.  And while some women couldn’t get a divorce, others divorced against their wishes.

Society stigmatized and alienated divorced women. Viewed by many as loose and unrespectable women, friends avoided them to protect their husbands and their own marriages. Parents restricted their freedoms to guard their tarnished reputation, in the eyes of the society.  The endless battles in courts over the alimonies, child support and custody dragged for years and costed fortunes. Divorced women were nothing but trouble, and families were happy to hand them over to another man to resume their responsibilities.

In today’s world, relations changed. Laws changed. Women work and are financially independent.  The reasons that their mothers and grandmothers stayed in dysfunctional marriages no longer apply to them. And with the social change, they can decide when to terminate a failed  marriage. And with no guilt or shame, they walk with their heads high, for they are setting new rules for how society perceives divorced women.

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Egyptian Women Fight for their Rights


By: Alexandra Kinias — I watched the movie Iron Jawed Angels. As an immigrant who had not grown up into  American culture,  I always admired how women of this great nation were enjoying their rights. However, this movie was an eye opening to the events of what really happened.  There was no shred of doubt in my mind that women did in fact demand their rights to everything they are enjoying today.  But I never imagined that these rights were achieved after a fierce and long battle. I wasn’t aware of the struggles that women had to go through to get their right to vote.

Women arrested and jailed on false accusations, harassed and abused, and thrown into solitary confinement, were things you heard happening elsewhere. Who would have believed that this happened in America? The movie didn’t just evoke a lot of feelings regarding women’s issues, but it also sparked the idea of what I am going to post in my blog, especially that blog started to discuss the serious issues that I addressed in my fiction novel “Black Tulips” which address the social hardships that Egyptian women encounter due to living in a male dominant society.

The Egyptian government statistics show that more than 50% of low class women are the sole breadwinners for their families. These women roam the streets every day looking for jobs. They are widows, divorcees, abandoned by their husbands or working to support an unemployed one. And while trying to make a living, they are subjected to a lot of physical and emotional abuse.

Girls dropping  out of school to support their families is a curse facing the future of women. Females turning to prostitution as a source of income is not widely spread, but it is not uncommon either, and so are teenage pregnancies.  Domestic violence against women, sexual harassment and girls being sold into marriages are among some of the examples of the hardships that face women.  As a result of that the rate of hymenorophy (restoring the virginity) operations that girls have to go through to protect their honor and thus their lives is increasing.

The Feminist Movement in Egypt that started at the beginning of the twentieth century was somehow silenced. In 1919, women, while still under the veil, marched in demonstrations along men to protest against the British occupation. In 1923 the Egyptian Feminist Movement was founded by Hoda Sharawi. On her return from an international feminist meeting in Rome , and while still on the steam boat, Sharawi and her peers removed their veils and dumped them in the sea.

Women’s political and educational rights soared, but family rights have always been stagnant. Divorce was only decided by the man, and harsh divorce and custody laws always favored men. Egyptian family laws were derived from Shariaa, the religious law, which doesn’t give much room to refute. I don’t believe that holly laws discriminate between genders; all laws were derived by men for men.

Over the past few decades,  women were brainwashed into believing that they have achieved all their rights, and stopped fighting for them, and as a result, their situation regressed greatly. But with the political changes over the last four years, women came to believe their importance as an active political partner and decision maker. They are waking up  to realize that their rights won’t simply drop on them from the sky, but that they have to fight hard for it to catch up with what they have missed. With this spark of hope, there’s a cautious sense of optimism that the future might be in fact changing to their favor.


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Removing the Veil Is Not As Easy As You Think

— By Alexandra Kinias —-


Photo copied from the Internet

Salma was getting ready for her wedding day. The date was set. Invitations were sent. Wedding planner hired and cake ordered. Her designer dress glittered in the fitting rooms and the romantic honeymoon destination was the perfect spot to bring this fairytale to life. Salma’s joy was replaced with disappointment when her fiancé objected to her wish to remove the veil on their wedding night. And while she wanted to have her wedding photos taken with her veil off, he rejected the idea of starting their life together committing a sin, by disobeying God and having men see her hair. Salma was torn between her desire to take the veil off and the fear that he might leave her if she did so.

What Salma went  through is not an isolated incident. There is a noticeable growing number of Egyptian women who are discarding the veil, and there are many others who wish to do so, but are unable to because of domestic and social pressures.

When Egyptian journalist Cherif Choubachy called for a rally to discard the veil, he was fiercely attacked by Islamic scholars. Short of an inquisition, Choubachy’s call was fought with aggression, sarcasm and personal and professional slandering. Naturally, his call for the rally died within days. The argument against this campaign was that veil is not enforced on women, but freely practiced and thus he has no business to advocate for removing it. Veil is not enforced by law in Egypt, but claiming that women freely choose to wear it is a false assumption recognized by observers of the changes that took place within the Egyptian society in the last several decades.

The global campaign to cover the heads of Muslim women has successfully been orchestrated by magnifying veil as the core of Islam. And by boiling down the entire faith to women’s head cover, the fruitful results of political Islam, with veil as its symbol, is seen across the Middle East and in western capitals worldwide. With the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt, the removal of the veil was the normal reaction by many women whom have worn it in the first place not for religious purposes but rather due to social pressures. And while some are going smoothly through the transition, many others like Salma are facing resistance from their spouses to remove it.

The intense campaigns, over the years, that have been drilling in women’s minds that neglecting the veil is sacrilegious, refute the statement that women freely choose to wear it. And while many were left feeling guilty for disobeying God, hordes of women veiled to escape His wrath. Thus the free choice is in fact a choice made out of fear not conviction. Simultaneously, it was also drilled in women’s minds that obeying their husbands is equivalent to obeying God.

Men were also made to believe that virtuous women are the conservative ones with veil, and that covering their women’s heads is a manifestation of their manhood. And while women were convinced that obeying their husbands is equivalent to obeying God, men were also convinced that as guardians to their women, they are responsible in front of God if their women are not veiled. As a result, men pressure their women to wear the veil or as in Samla’s case, make sure it is kept on. It has also been drilled in men’s minds that women’s bodies are their possessions that should be protected from predators’ eyes. Who doesn’t remember the posters that compared unveiled women with uncovered candy that attracts flies?


Or worse, who can forget  the Australian Muslim cleric who blamed immodestly dressed women who don’t wear the veil for being preyed on by men and likened them to abandoned “meat” that attracts voracious animals?

Because of the psychological manipulation by Islamic scholars to control both men and women, veil became a condition for men seeking a wife. It ultimately became a ticket for many women to guarantee a spouse. A substantial number of women wear the veil to secure a husband or as requested by their suitors, but eventually find themselves in a dilemma when they realize that by wearing it, they have surrendered their right to remove it. To avoid confrontation, many reluctantly keep it on with the hope that they could convince their husbands to remove it someday.

And to close the loop in case husbands allowed their wives to remove the veil, religious scholars wasted no time in spreading fear among women that God’s wrath with those who remove it is even greater than with those who never wore it.

Veil has expanded from being a personal matter between women and God to become a social issue that involves many spectators; religious scholars, family members and friends who are either pro or against removing it.

Salma never removed the veil on her wedding night, but as a compromise, the couple hired a female photographer to take pictures of her before the wedding without the veil. These photos would only be shown to her female friends and family members. Salma knows that keeping the veil merely to please her husband defeats its religious purpose, but for someone who never committed to it for its religious value, she helplessly has no choice but to keep it on. She can’t risk the consequences of removing it.

* Bride’s name has been changed for privacy …


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Man vs. Sunblock . Why many women choose to live in the shadow of men?


By: Alexandra Kinias

With so much emphasis on marriage, growing up as a girl in Egypt can be very stressful. As the quote ‘Living in a man’s shadow is better than living in a wall’s shadow’ is drilled into their minds from an early age, girls grow up with the understanding that their ultimate goal is to get married, raise kids and have a family. And sadly enough most girls are bred to become eventually incubators and have more kids to sustain the population growth – I fail to see it any other way.

In a society where their role as baby makers is a top career, women hardly escape their fate. It is most unfortunate that that’s what they sometimes thrive for. For a lot of them, marriage is viewed as a way of breaking away from their family’s chains and becomes a symbol of a social respect.

When marriage becomes a destination, naturally the image of an unmarried woman is not very cheerful. And if anyone, God forbids, joins their ranks, it becomes an emotional and strenuous experience for both the girl and her family. Women in her extended family, friends and neighbors would click their tongues and purse their lips for the unlucky girl who had missed the marriage train. She would also be showered with pitiful looks for the terminal disease she suffers from; Spinsterhood – an ailment only a man could cure.

The pressure women are subjected to might lead them to marry an incompatible suitor who comes knocking on their door to save them from their doomed fate. And of course the older the women get the more compromises are made. The remedy offered by the suitor might sometimes means the woman would accept to be a second wife. It is not such a grave situation to salvage themselves from the social stigma that comes from being an old maid in a society that still discriminates against unmarried women. Anything could be sacrificed for a change in social status. Some of these marriages make it while others fail and the spinster label is switched to a divorcee which is not a welcomed status either, but one that is more acceptable.

Being viewed as a house wrecker who might impose a potential threat to her married peers, an unmarried woman is often expelled from the circle of her friends. The same goes for divorced women. And for both of these women the attempts to live alone come with hardships because in a society that is focused on matrimony, it is beyond comprehension that being single is a voluntary choice.

When girls reach the age of marriage, family’s nagging starts. The timing varies: in cities, it usually happens after college while in small towns and villages it takes place much earlier.

In their pursuit for a husband, girls often master the arts of manipulation and deception in fear of losing their trophy to be. Actually, they are not to be blamed. When they grow up in a society where they learn that living in the shadow of a man is better than living in the shadow of a wall, what else could they think off?

Following the footsteps of their ancestors in the quest of finding a husband can be to very mentally and emotionally exhausting process. If the woman fails, she feels that she is incompatible, loses her self confidence and is left with self pity that might lead to depression. And those who succeed will replace one shadow with the other – Yes the quote clearly stated that women are destined to stay in the shade, no matter what. And with these two options at my disposal, I would rather bake in the sun.

To read more

Spinsters By choice.

Egyptian spinsters fight against stereotype and discrimination

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