Category Archives: marriage in EGypt

Why marriages in Egypt are becoming disposable?

Divorce

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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Removing the Veil Is Not As Easy As You Think

— By Alexandra Kinias —-

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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?

hajab-propaganda

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?

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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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