Wednesday, November 14

How Much Does a Woman Pay for Divorce?

This time I pose the above question because I was so surprised to see that many people can't form a realistic image about the critical condition of divorced women in Egypt. I'd like to say that women who haven't undergone the painful experience have a big share in contributing to this unrealistic view. Our media, with all its messed up representations of almost all social groups, also played a very big role in shaping this image. This false image more or less originated after the law of khul' (a law which gives the wife the right to divorce her husband through court if she hates to continue living with him on the condition of returning back the amount of money paid by her husband as dowry at the time of marriage, and which also states the inability of husbands to appeal against their wives divorcing them) was approved by the Constitutional Court. It is as if a single law can wipe away long years of negative stereotyping and social discrimination practiced against divorced women.

It is true that this long-anticipated law (along with the introduction of family-court) came at a very critical time, and was actually the only hope for thousands of women who have been waiting for years for a verdict that would put an end to their miserable marriages. Going through many legal battles, years of waiting, going from court to court to follow the lawsuit, paying a big sum of money to lawyers, were never enough to ensure winning the case. Women faced many obstacles during hearings, and it is so difficult for most of them to prove that serious harm was inflicted on them by their husbands. That was because of the general trend among married men here, who refuse to divorce their wives no matter how bad their marriages have turned to be. The majority of men think that women have no right to decide when to terminate a marriage. It is taken for granted that such a decision is 100% masculine. A man can suddenly and unconditionally decide to divorce his wife, and the law even gives him the right to divorce her without her knowledge. He can then be kind enough to ask the police to notify his ex-wife, by sending her the divorce papers, or he can just disappear without ever caring to let this woman know whether she is still married or not.

Another reason why men refuse to divorce their wives has to do with money. According to the Islamic shariaa, a man who divorces his wife has to pay a fine (mo2a7'ar) which is already stated in the marriage contract, a monthly amount of money for children fees (nafaqah), and monthly payments for the ex-wife (nafaqet 3eddah+mot3ah) as long as she doesn't remarry. All this in addition to the wife's right to keep the appartment where she lived with her husband in case she has custody of their children who are under 12. Of course these financial rights will be lost if the husband refuses to divorce his wife officially. Men have the choice of verbally declaring divorce, which is considered a full divorce from a religious point of view, without going through the official procedures to authenticate this divorce on paper. In such cases, the Egyptian legal system is totally paralyzed. Women who are verbally-divorced have absolutely no authority to claim their financial rights. They have to file for divorce first, and if the court divorces them, then they can claim those rights. But the problem is that the judical system doesn't approve of verbal-divorce, except when the ex-husband confesses that he did actually tell his wife that she was divorced, which is useless of course!.. or if the wife can get witnesses who are ready to testify that they heard her husband while verbally declaring divorce, which is equally useless. In 99% of the cases, husbands who divorce their wives by saying "you are divorced" won't say it in front of witnesses. Besides, a husband can always object to the testimonies of the witnesses, and members of the wife's family are already considered as having weak testimonies.

The other option would be for the woman to pretend that she was still married. She will then try to convince the court that her husband has been harming her. Again she will have to face the dilemma of the witnesses, objections by the husband's lawyer, and the own estimation of the judge of what is considered to be real harm. Therefore, most wives had no other choice but to say that "this harm" was due to lack of sexual intercourse. Can any Oriental woman stand in front of judges and lawyers to say such a thing? Even if that was the only way to have a divorce, it is considered too shameful and scandelous.

Now, what happened with the khul'? Not a big difference in fact. A wife has to convince the court that she has experienced a "change of heart" towards her husband, which prevent her from giving him his shariaa rights (which is the polite term for sexual rights). In this case, she will be viewed by everyone as being an unfaithful wife, who probably has an affair with another man. This would be the only reason behind her mysterious "change of heart," what else can it be? So, as you see, a woman who resorts to this solution is risking her riputation. What good will divorce do her after that?

What if she doesn't want to mention this change of heart? Same dilemma. She has to prove that her husband is abusive or violent or that she was seriously harmed by him. Now, with khul' (also called no-fault law) it is different. She doesn't have to go through the same complicated process of proving physical harm. After all she is will pay for divorce, so it may be enough that she gets weak testimonies. Yet, the fact that the law does not strictly define the degree of harm sufficient to grant a woman's right to divorce leaves a big room for the estimation of the judge. You can now guess what that means. Women of low social status won't be taken seriously if they filed for divorce because of being hit by their husbands. It is generally accepted among low classes that men can be phyically voilent with their wives. And this doesn't seem to alarm anyone who belongs to this social class at all. The judge then believes that rejecting the case is in favor of this family. To him, this woman is just angry and will soon calm down. So what if her husband hits her? Did he hit the queen of England?

Another example on the absurdity of the word "harm" is the fact that polygamy isn't considered by some judges to be harmful enough to the wife who discovers that her husband had secretly married another woman. The fact that polygamy is authorized for men in Islam, makes many judges reluctant to certify that it is psychologically harmful to the first wife. Judges are men after all, and with male calculations, a verdict that permits a wife to have divorce when her husband marries another can cause a revolution among women. If all women had easy access to divorce, the majority of men won't be able to marry more than one. Even a judge is not brave enough to announce a final judgement concerning polygamy. But is it really that hard to tell whether polygamy harms the first wife or not?

I hope that by now it is clear for you to see that women don't really have much say in deciding whether to go on with their marriages or not. Those who are lucky enough to get off the hook are only a small percentage. Women care for their children much more than they care for themselves and are willing to endure anything for the sake of protecting those children. Therefore most women whose husbands refuse to divorce them won't have the guts to file a lawsuit against their kids' father. How can a mother subject her children to this ordeal? How will she appear in the eyes of those children when they see her standing against their own father in court? This is the absolutely unendurable thing for mothers. Can you see it now? While men have unconditional access to divorce, not having to even enter a courtroom to end their marriages, women undergo a long process of painful suffering and have to beg for their divorce! They are forced to stay with husbands they hate. They are denied justice in the legal system. And those who succeed to end their marriage carry a social stigma and face a wide social rejection that reduces them to the level of bacteria!

-"Did you meet the new employee?"

-"No. Is she here already?"

-"Yeah.. hmhm.. Take care, she's a divorcee."

-"In what way shall I take care?"

-"She will share the same office with you. You may think she can be a close friend."

-"And what's the problem with that?"

-"Oh, you innocently naive girl! Sure you don't want anyone to think you hang out with her."

-"Sorry, I really don't get it. Why won't I want that?"

-"Hey.. You're single girl. You don't want to harm your reputation in any way. What if a colleague wants to propose and then finds out that your friend is a divorcee?"

-"What will happen?"

-"Are you seriously that naive? He may change his mind."

-"That will be good. But why?"

-"You don't mean that for sure. Why?? He will have doubts about your behavior. What makes a single girl like you have a divorcee as a friend?"

-"Wow.. And will it be any different if I was married? Can you be her friend for instance while I can't?"

-"NO WAY! Will only be friendly around the office, but I must keep my distance."

-"Why? Doesn't your husband trust you?"

-"Of course he does. It's I who don't trust him. Not him as a person, you can't trust men in general."

-"What's the relation between not trusting and the new employee?"

-"If I ain't careful enough in keeping my distance, she may wish us to be friends outside the office."

-"What's wrong with that? Can't you have coffee with her in a public place or what?"

-"That's not the problem. She may call me at home. My husband may pick up the phone. She then might visit me at home, and my husband can meet her."

-"Oh, I see.. So, you don't allow any women to call you or visit you at home."

-"Not any women. She is a divorcee, don't you understand?"

-"No. I can never understand, and I refuse to accept such a thing. What is there to understand? What if I was the one who was divorced and she was the single girl? Would you be telling me this precious advice now? Please go to attend to your work and never mention such things again."

-"You are young and inexperienced. I was just trying to open your eyes. Do as you like, you will only blame yourself for not taking my advice."

-"Thanks ya madam. But I don't think I will ever blame myself for being human and fair. I don't care to please a suitor who will doubt my conduct if one of my friends is a divorcee. And I certainly won't marry someone that I don't trust. Even if he leaves me for her, I won't regret. Because then I will be sure that this man did not deserve me and therefore is not worth keeping. That's me and that's how I think. There's no place for your wisdom here I'm afraid."

Do I need to say more?.. Not only does a woman pay a very high price for divorce, but she also has to pay for it more than once.


Anonymous said...

Oh Gee. The post is too big

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Fantasia,
Do I need to say every single time it is a magnificent article or it started to be boring?

I have few points I wanted to comment if you allow me:

First: the 2nd installment of the brides’ dowry “Mo’a7ar Al-Sadaq” is not a fine, it is a genuine part of dowry, and the woman worth it immediately after marriages takes effect. Yet, you can say it is like a credit option, it is not to be paid before marriage but at any point of time after it. A man should pay this amount of money once he can, and preferably during his life, without divorce, and if he died, this amount is deducted from his heritage like any other debt.

Second: In my perception “that is not necessarily everyone’s perception” , once the government necessitated divorce to be written and official, then it becomes part of the religious divorce to register. If we considered verbal divorce to be effective, then we shall consider Orfi marriage to be religiously acceptable.

I know you are talking here about what s believed by public about Moa7ar and verbal divorce, which is true, some men does not even know the simple fact I said about Moa7ar. Thank you for the post after all. It is an efficient one I can say. Regards

Fantasia said...

hope you got the chance to read a short part of it.

شريف أبو زاد said...

الفنانة الجريئة
في الاول انا استمتعت اوي بردك في الموضوع الفات بتاع موامرة الجواز،،،اللي قلتيه عالغرب محتاج مناقشة كتير اوي بس بوجه عام يعني كلام مظبوط

تاني حاجة ايه الجمال ده؟،،،،انتي محامية اكيد مش كده؟،،انا واثق انك محامية واكيد متخصصة في الاسرة وقضيات النساء..حقيقي موضوع جميييييللللل وكتابتك بتمتعني اوي

هموت واعرف حالتك الاجتماعية بس مش هسال طبعا عنها ميصحش بس مش عارف كلامك بناء على تجربة شخصية ولا تجارب اصدقاء ولا مفيش علاقة،،اصل عارفة ليه يا فنانة انتي بتكتبي باحساس وعاطفة مش مجرد تحليل بالعقل وخلاص فعشان كده بحس ساعات انك عندك تجارب شخصية صعبة شوية طلعت كل العبقرية الوصفية التحليلية دي

انا اتجوزت سيدة مطلقة من 8 سنين، هيا كان عندها طفلين بعد 5 سنين جواز اول، وانا كنت اعزب

امممم،كان فيه معارضة عائلية،،اكيد،،وكان فيه مشاكل فظيعة،،طبعا،،بس كنت مقتنع،وكنت بحبها ومستعد لاي اعتراضات

رايي ان لازم المجتمع يشوف المطلقة دي على انها ست كتر خبرة واكتر نضج واكتر حرصا على النجاح واقل اندفاعا واقل حرصا على اي جوازة وخلاص وبالتالي فهي من نواحي كتيرة اوي احسن من البنات الصغيرين اللي ناقصين خبرة ومسروعين على الجواز

طبعا برضه يا فنانة الشعب مش هقدر انسى الفلوس واثر المستوى المادي في الموضوع ده وحقيقة ان الراجل مازال هو الي بيصرف على الست في اغلب البيوت في العالم العربي

ياللا اتمنى لك السعادة سواء كنتي متزوجة او لا

شريف ابو زاد

Fantasia said...

dr. eyad,
hey, i never get bored of receiving praise on my writings.. please don't hold back any. that's my fuel if you want to read more of my posts.
thank you so much for the very useful information you added here. i thought nobody knew what mo2a7'ar really is, but it seems there is one who does. what you said is correct. yet i bet you to find me any person who knows about this, man or woman. moreover, our respectable sheikhs never mention anything about this fact, although they became stars on all TV channels.
It seems that there is a conspiracy to hide the truth about this thing too.
As for verbal divorce, what you said makes sense. or let me say, it is the only right thing to do. but again, our respectable sheikhs say that verbal divorce is enough to make divorce happen. i didn't want to get into more depressing details about the awkward state of verbal divorce, because frankly it is mahzalla. (i can't find another way to describe it.) like for example the fact that it is related to the husband's intention when saying it. how can anyone prove that? or that he can go back to his wife and continue their marriage at any time he wishes. it is enough that he says (even to himself) that he is taking back his wife! I believe this is a joke ya3ni. silly joke kaman. are we plaing games?
i don't know why men of religion disregards all these important issues while they insist to talk about trivial matters all the time! where is the religious mission? i don't understand the nature of their job really. i am sorry to say that. but i believe that as long as our tax money pays for their salaries, then they should care more about problems which really concern us, not them. that's to say the least.
i'm glad that you raised this issue, dr. eyad. it needs a seperate post i guess. i will be continuing my posts discussing the institution of marriage in egyptian society. hope you'll keep following and sending me your valuable comments.

Fantasia said...

i like how you call me "fannana" so much :))) thank you for that honor. it means a lot to me personally. i believe artists are next to prophets. of course you didn't know that, and that makes me even happier.
the reason why i don't share any personal information on this blog is that i want people to read what is written without having any preconceptions. for example, if i tell you that i am a lawyer (which isn't true) then next time you read my post you will think that it is a case i am working on; or that i am sympathizing with one of my clients; or that my aim is criticizing the legal system; or that i am searching for legal answers to the problems i am discussing...etc.
i want anyone who reads my posts to think about them objectively, in isolation from the person who wrote them, and to enjoy them for their own intellectual quality. i know that many people are as curious as you are about my background and whether or not i write out of personal experience.
i believe if your review the variety of topics dicussed on this blog, you will clearly see that i could never ever have experienced all of these things.
it is true that i write with passion, as i love the act of writing itself. also the fact that i write about a fields which interests me and occupies my mind a lot, makes me invest more feelings in what i am writing. aside from that, it is easy to tell that this passion is not driven by a certain obsession, or biased reaction resulting from a personal allergy.
i was so pleased to learn about your wife. wishing you all happiness. and i do sincerely hope that more people would be willing to throw the traditional view of divorced women behind their backs. what you said about women marrying for the second time is very true and can be inspiring to others. there are actual advantages in marrying a mature woman who has had her share of experiencing life.
i just want to add a point here.. that falsity of the image society gives of young divorced women. many of these women have no desire in re-marrying and it is a genuine desire caused by their painful experience with their first marriages. yet, they are always imagined as if they are out fishing for a new husband.
thanks for caring to provide a true example which can move others to start thinking differently. waiting for more insights from the artist of comments :)

egyptian feminist chic said...

Fantasia,you come up with some of the most amazing points of view,and many things I have never realy thought of before.... but when you mention them all I can think of is that you ar so right!!! So I've been away for a few days, and when I came back, I checked out your blog, and I found this fascinating article, and I thought I would put in my 2 cents.

When it comes to the law of "khol3", It was started sometime after i had moved from Egypt, so all I knew about it was what I heard from the egyptian media, and from friends and family in Egypt... The general consensus was that the women felt that it was an "okay " victory.... no one seemed too happy, but no one complained. The men on the other hand felt that somehow it took away from their masculinity... that now they are no longer men, as they have been humiliated and disgraced... it was unthinkable!!!! Imagine that... a woman actually leaving a marriage she cannot tolerate! the men might as well go start wearing dresses and putting on makeup... maybe even get periods! needless to say I was completely offended by the sexist attitudes of the men whom I had never seen as sexist before... they were all well educated, and well informed... i was hoping that their attitudes were more mature... and more fair. I tried discussing this with my mom... so she asked me if i wanted to leave my husband... i said of course not, why are you saying that?? she said then dont even bring this up with him... it was kind of odd that she felt that this was something we shouldnt discuss.... Despite my mom's opinion, I brought it up with my husband... the enlightened man who supports all my crazy ideas... who believes women dont have enough rights.... who understands why there is feminism in the world, and who supports and encourages women he knows when he feels that they are trying to stand up for their rights....his only comment? "kefaya 3aleehom.... yehmedo rabena en elkanoon elmasry we2ef ma3ahom lehad keda, homa kano tayleen?" so I asked why he thought that this was enough... he said that it may or may not be enough... but women are much better off now.. as they can leave a marriage which is destroying their lives, as opposed to being forced to live with a man they dont want.. or worse, being married, without a husband, who will just leave her there to spite her, and never live with her, or divorce her... and never being able to remarry.... or leave the country for a business conference...etc. as long as he refuses the divorce. so he believed that for now, things are better than before...

I thought what he said made a little sense to me.. after all, as a married egyptian woman, you cannot get a passport for yourself, hubby has to get it for you.... if you have a passport, he can report you to the airport authorities, and they will stop you from leaving the country withot his approval.... you cannot get any legal documents for your kids... need a birth cetificate for your child??? sorry, no can do!!! you are not a man, you cant do anything for the kid....what about kids passports... nope, cant do that either.... wanna open a bank account in their name??? you cant do that... you can put in money, but if you want to withdraw, the dad has to do it.... so basicly, being married makes you useless... if you are single on the other hand, you are free to do as you choose... get you own passport, no one can stop you from leaving the country...etc.( still nothing for the kids... but eh..its a start) so for the women who are married to men who dont want them, but refuse to divorce them.... it is salvation.... they can carry on with their lives, despite what their abnoxious husband wants.

What I understood was that courts will automaticly allow you to leave, and the process is quick and simple.... so I thought that this sounds great!!!! until I read your post.... Never in a million years would it have occured to me that they discriminate based on social class!!! this is truly uncomprehensible!! why would they do that??? isnt this against their oath as a judge... is'nt fairness a requirement for their job??? and some one needs to explain to me why hitting a woman who has a " low social class" is okay, while for high society women it isnt... Abuse is the same, it hurts the same both emotionaly or physically regardless of what you do for a living!!! so what kind of twisted logic is behind these awful attitudes? Anyway, this totally ruins the whole process if the judges are biased.... even though the process was not good enough to begin with... it is now worse!!! Another thing I have noticed is that some people will write on the marriage certificate that the bride received a mahr of a certain amount of money.... which she may or may not get.... sometimes she will even get it in the form of furniture in the house, or even a down payment for the apartment they will live in. but still they will put it the contract as "mahr"( to look good infront of relatives and friends) so what happens when she asks for a khol3, will she actually have to get the money and pay it to the husband to get out of the marriage? so in other words, there is more discrimination. a poor woman cant afford to leave, but a rich woman can!!!

Another thing that totally pisses me off is attitudes towards divorced women... somehow women can be more cruel to each other than men are cruel to women.... they are the ones who discriminate against divorced women, and you have just given us a typical example. a woman who has just gone through a divorce needs support and help from others. her life is shattered, and she needs to pick up he pieces and move on. why is society so cruel? why be judgemental? why not give her a break, and help her out? Have egyptians been through so much, that they have lost sympathy for others? I would highly recommend helping someone in need to all egyptians, just be there for support,it does wonders! you will feel good about yourself, and you will make someone else feel better..... I promise, it doesnt hurt!

There are just so many laws that are screwed up and discriminate against women in Egypt. My pet peeve is how an egyptian woman's child is not Egyptian! Can you believe that? and somehow, attituted in the media show all the morons who say of course!!! what does she expect? kids are like their father! the mom is not "citizen" enough (if there is such a term) apparently, a woman's citizenship is less than a man's! so kids don't inherit the woman's citizenship for some God forsaken reason!

Another thing I hate?? how most egyptians say that women in egypt are liberated. they have "enough" rights. why enough? whatever happened to equality?? and how some women agree! UGH! WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! Some rights is not the same as EQUAL rights! Look around you and you will see how many women are hurt and miserable by these "ENOUGH" rights, then imagine if this is your daughter and see f you like seeing her his way. Then go back and decide if they realy are enough! Why doI say daughters?? because some people take it for granted that their moms are " maghloobeen 3ala amrohom" and some feel that it is okay if it is their wife, since she needs to be thankful he went and married her. but when it comes to daughters, most men would never ever tolerate their precious child could ever be hurt by some stupid man made law that needs to be changed. Anyway, sorry fo the long rant... it is just that so many laws anger me beyond belief, and you have just added a new one! I will stop complaining now, and go drink some lemonade to calm me down. Hope everyone is having a great day!

denial said...

thats exactly the problem, egyptian fem chic ! laws are made by those who yield power. and right now, the power predominantly belongs to the rich and male. unfortunately, it may continue on to be like this unless something truamatic happens from their camp. sad thing is women cannot even unite with one another for a good cause, because basically, everyones just looking out for their own butts. so long as theyre comfortable and it serves their purpose, why rock the boat? however, i do believe salvation lies in knowledge, which brings me a chance to commend on fantasia's work (: i do hope ur message reaches especialy to the younger female generation, the more females in the goverment will definately help bring womens cause closer to reality!

Fantasia said...

dearest egyptian feminist chic,
it seems you are determined to make me addicted to your comments :) i thank who whole heartedly for this simple yet comprehensive layout of how people view divorce laws from the outside. and that's precisely why i decided to write this post. most people depend on the media and movies in forming their opinions towards things they didn't experience, or things that they don't care enough to have a first hand knowledge of.
when it comes to something which concerns the basic contract in every couple's life, like divorce, you generally expect that everybody should know about its rules and laws, at least those who are married. yet, you find out that nobody cares to look up those laws except when they reach a dead end. in our public mind, seeking knowledge about certain things is thought to bring bad luck, or considered an ill omen. for example, if you are not a doctor, you are never encouraged to read about diseases. and if a girl is getting married, she is not allowed to read about what almost 3/4 of the marriage contact is about. so basically, she is signing a contract while being oblivious of its terms. she only knows about her duties inside marriage. and our culture encourages such ignorance.

you live outside egypt, so i don't know whether you heard of the new marriage contract which was issued recently (after khul3). what's new about this contract is that it included a part where the bride can write down any terms she wishes her future husband to follow during their marriage. there were no such terms in the old contract because it depended on the good will of the husband. but the continuous increase in numbers of divorce cases waiting for a verdict made a huge pressure on the legal system, which suddenly exploded and was forced to confess that such cases can wait forever. why? because the law doesn't say anything about a man who hits his wife without breaking her bones. (actually it doesn't say anything about the definition of harm, it is very vague. so if a serious injury can be proven by a medical report, then the wife can report that to the police and it becomes a case of physical assault. then she can use the documents for this case to prove that she was harmed by her husband in the divorce suit.)

the same case with polygamy. how can a wife prove that she made it clear to her husband from the start that she won't accept to stay with him if he remarries? this is a legal and religious right of muslim men, and wives can not prove that it is considered a serious harm. in this case a wife will be forced to stay with her husband.

now for the first time, the marriage contract gave a chance to women to specify everything that they consider to be harmful. the bride has the right to include all the terms that she wishes her husband to abide by during their marriage. she can clearly indicate that insults, hitting, remarrying (there was a strong opposition against including this term, but victory was won by providing statistics showing a huge number of unsolved cases because of polygamy), forced sex, cheating, or whatever are for her a red line. and as the husband signs this contract he is certifying those rights. this makes divorce much easier if any of these terms was violated. it simply means that the contract is terminated once the husband refuses to follow one or more of the terms.

you might think that this is the true life-vest thrown to women. i am so sorry to disappoint you. but the fact is that 99% of brides leave this section blank. most of them because they don't know of it (the culture of staying in the dark which i explained in the beginning). the rest do it as courtesy to the groom, who might be pissed off if the bride doesn't show how grateful she is that he was kind enough to marry her. how dare she write conditions for continuing to be his wife! now what do you think about that?

i don't want to talk about how the judges reacted when their female colleagues were allowed for the first time in egypt to have their right in career promotion and to become judges themselves. when i remember some of their comments i just feel sick. we're talking about the head of the legal system. we're talking about those who are responsible for applying justice, in its objective form. those honorable male judges thought that it is such a shame that women would occupy their seats in the courtrooms. that's how many of them think. now do you find it strange that they differentiate between rich and poor women?

i am soooo glad you raised the issue of equality vs. rights. i already wrote something about that. will publish it soon, after the sequel of posts dealing with the marriage institution in egypt.
your comments always make me happy feminist chic. keep writing your wonderful insights :)

Fantasia said...

thank you so much. i believe the reason why women don't unite over a cause is that they don't have a genuine belief in their ability for action. when you keep telling someone that he is a loser all the time, he couldn't help but accept this fact about himself. even if it is not true. he just doesn't have the motive to think otherwise to be able to explore his real power. that's exactly the case we have here. women feel more comfotable when they adopt individual strategies, and then each one of them goes round and round her aim like a bee. only very few of them actually reach their aims in this way, cause most like the circular motion around the target rather than actually getting there. getting there needs some courage. you should trust your abilities before you come face to face with your target.
this becomes even harder when women gather in a group. they all feel that they won't be able to achieve anything, but they hide this feeling when they find some enthusiastic figures who look daring enough. in their hearts, they expect these figures to fail, although they don't wish it. what they can't understand is that figures can not succeed alone. if they don't succeed, it's not because they met expectations, but because they didn't receive enough support from those who should be concerned: all women.
in very rare cases women were able to show a totally different face. those were the ones who believed in their power. and as far as i know, none of them failed.
i want to see more egyptian women in politics and the legal system. and i want them to access positions by their own efforts, not allowing themselves to be used as a decoration by the regime. amen!

egyptian feminist chic said...

Thanks Fantasia... I actually ike sharing thoughts here, as whenever I express my opinion about anything, I am constantly asked why I bother, since I personally have never been discriminated against ( at least everyone believes that if it doesnt affect them personally, then who cares what happens if other women get divorced or married... it isnt their problem!) so no one realy understands how this is important. Including my own mother. It dosnt stop me from talking though, but I like reading here other points of view, and especialy like how you put things in a different prespective.
As for the contract, I always assumed tht this was standard procedure in egypt (to include certain conditions) I didn't know that this was an addition! I got married outside of Egypt, so I dont have an egyptian marriage certificate, and I have never seen one. But since I used to ask a ot oquestions when I was younger, my unertanding from my parents was that if it isnt in the contract, then it doesnt exist.... so I assumed everyone added to the contract... at least something.

Now that you mention it is there... this is a good thing. However I understand how girls would be embarressed to actually pop up and say I want thisor that condition added.... I am sure, that if a girl is marrying a man she barely knows, and she is told you hae to listen to him, he is your husband, and he will take care of you, she will be intimidated... and it will be very difficult to express such an opinion to someone she barely knows. My other thought about this is... this is where her parents step in... I mean, the ask for shabkawith this value, mahr with that value, apartment with so many rooms...etc.etc. so they realy are never shy about anything.... and a lot of times her parents can break off an engagement just because they disagree with the grom or his family... so maybe the best way to aproach this is to encourage girls to learn their rights.... learn that they dont have to put up with polygamy, that they dont have to be forced to stay at home, or dress in a certain way. they need to know what they can or cannot ask for. then men need to learn the same thing, and accept that if a woman asksfor certain coditions , it is her right, and he should not be intimidated, or look for someone else who will be more submissive, because this will not affect him in any way, it will just protect the girl, and he will not be any less if she has rights.

Then we need to teach parents... you need to inform your daughters about their rights, and since most egyptian parents are involved in their daughters marriages, then they need to stand up for her at the contract, just as they did when it came to money. Every mother needs to sit down with her daughter, discuss this, and find out what she wants or does not want.... they should add this to the "talk" about the birds and he bees, that all mothers in Egypt give their daughters before their weddings... at least this way, it will be less awkward, and girls will have something to discuss other than awkward subjects;)

I think the media needs to advertise this. If there was some sort of an organization that funds women's rights, they should advertise on television. they should give out pamphlets and flyers to couples who will be married in the coming months so people will learn, and maybe even give it to new graduates and newly hired employees.... it isnt enough to include this space in the contract, education has to happen,and a lot of encouragement for women and their families, so they will not fear using a right every girl has, and for men so they will not be intimidated or feel insulted if their bride to be has certain conditions to add.

As for the judges and their stupid uneducated remarks about women being judges..... I saw that on TV, and the amount of stupidity shown by these people was horriffic!!! I remember hearing, but women get periods.... how can a woman be a judge if she has a period!they said, women can get pregnant... how can a pregnant judge make a decision? they said women get PMS... and you all know that a woman with PMS is crazy!!! how can you trust her to make a decision. They said women are emotional, if a woman is angry at her husband, she can come to work, and let her emotions rule, and sentence a poor guy to death, because she is mad at her husband!!...etc.

I dont know whether to laugh or to cry. These guys realy dont know what they are talking about... I should know, I am a doctor. A woman who has her period functions just like the rest of the population.. it doesnt affect performance at work. A pregnant woman can still work, if pregnancy affects anything, it will be physical, maybe a back ache or something, and maybe nothing....other than that, most women continue to work while pregnant, so i dont see what they are talkig about.... pregnancy is not embarressing, and they shouldnt try to make women feel incompetent if they are pregnant. then comes the PMS argument.... This is the biggest hoax I have ever seen. Women dont go crazy with PMS, and most dont even get PMS, and when they do, a tylenol will make it go away.... this is like saying people get headaches, you cat be a judge if you get headaches! so it is a lame argument... and the women are emotional argument... well, we are not cavemen, we are a civilized society... there is no such thing as women are emotional.... human beings are emotional, both men and women, some more than others, and some less..... it is not a negative atribute, and it is not only women. and it is the oldest trick in the book.... men seem to think that by saying this they are implying weakness in women, which they would like them to believe.
I believ that men who make such stupid excuses are the weak ones. they are afraid of the competition, so they try to make it go away. they are incompetent and feel threatened because they know that there are many women who are strong enough to stand up to them,and who will perform better than they can, so they just want to avoid it to save face.
One more thing, judges are usually older people, well into their 50's, at that age, women no longer have periods, no longer get pregnant, and no longer have PMS.... so seriously, why the lame excuses when you know the excuses dont even exist?

And they realy need to look around them.... all over the world women hold high positions, and are judges, and these countries are more advanced than egypt... doesnt this ring a bell?? maybe it is better to have women working. maybe a working woman will contribute to society. maybe they will have better ideas, maybe egypt will be better off using all of its power rather than half of it. Did they ever think this way, or is it only i am good because i can opress half of society so they cant compete?

you know sometimes I am just tired of all the arguments, the stupid remarks, the idiotic opinions, the oppressive attitudes. Where did my country go? I dont remember growing up in this society. I remember a more enlightened, open minded society when I was a child... IS it our generation that grew up and screwed up everything? I wish things would go back to the way they were when peopl were free... and opression was heading out the door.

Fantasia said...

dear feminist chic,
you mentioned several important points here that i wish to elaborate further. i liked so much what you said about the role of the media and women organizations in spreading awareness about the new marriage certificate and how to make the best use of it. but do we have this culture in egypt? i wish we did! it would have saved us lots of time, money and effort. for example, i know a lot about the american legal system from their movies, talk shows, news...etc. when it comes to the egyptian law, you find that none of those tools can count as a useful source of information (not to mention reliable). you have to search for places where you can search for references where you can search for information that you wish to learn. that is in case you care to have prior knowledge. but the most common case is that of women who are already in trouble. so the process goes on like this: they ask family and friends who never say that they don't know, relying on what they think, guess, or outdated information. with this distorted knowledge women take decisions. let's say the decision is "there is no need to write conditions because now we have the khul3 law" and this is what almost all people think. let's say this woman wanted to have a divorce later on. she goes to the same people for advice and they give her misleading information again. upon that she decides to go to court, being confident that she will be set free. she hires a lawyer, who will never turn a client down or care to tell her about possible obstacles she will meet (maybe the client will change her mind). so the lawyer files a lawsuit for khul3, even if he is certain that his client won't win the case. you can imagine what happens next.
the question you maybe wondering about is "can't society see these problems?" and i can answer you. YES everybody sees everything so clearly. why don't they do anything about it? because we don't have the culture of prevention. we get sick then we wait until we are so damn sick, then we finally decide to see a doctor, most probably when it is too late. that's one reason. another reason is that some of those who have it in their hands to spread awareness think that this awareness can be harmful! they believe that people are not wise enough while taking decisions and too much information can give them the courage to do more harm. exactly like the method followed in politics. they keep citizens in the dark because they can't guarantee their reaction.
why don't all women who file for divorce simply receive this right? it is clear that once a woman decides to stand against her husband in court then this family can never lead a normal life again. so denying her that right, only causes a lot of unneeded suffering and misery. but the legal system rests assured that they are wiser than us. they think that if divorce was made available to all women who wish to have it, then society would be destroyed and family stability will be lost. so they believe that by making divorce so difficult, they are actually keeping society intact!
we might see this as the most twisted logic on earth. you and i can give a long list of evidence that this is not working for the best. but still we won't be able to convince them.
dictatorship is the general pattern which governs our lives in egypt. it starts in the families until it reaches the top of the system which leads our country. there is no democracy in our homes, so how can we ask for it in politics? in the solid hierarchies of dictatorships, the leader treats all others like babies. they don't have a say, even if they sound logical. decisions are passed from above and the babies have to obey. they may scream and kick in objection, but this is never taken seriously. the leaders view themselves as the sole owners of wisdom among the ignorant masses.
i don't know whether you got a chance to work in egypt before you travel. being a doctor, you should have come across people who were the reason behind their illnesses. they may have waited so long or tried pills or herbs on their own. you prescribe medication and off they go. they may skip the followup session. and then you see them after a long time in a worse condition. what happened? they took the medicine you prescribed for a couple of days and they didn't feel better. so they switched back to the wisdom of the elders. why do they do that? because they fall under the direct influence of an oppressive social structure and they feel so vulnerable in times of weakness. they need reassurement more than they need medicine.
so, no matter how many times we expose scientific facts about the female biological nature, people we continue to believe stupid claims like the ones said by the male judges you saw on TV. they see pregnant women and they view it something funny. not because it is funny in itself, but because that is the image they were encouraged to adopt. you say that women after 50 don't have periods, or get preganant or have PMS. they will tell you that women go crazy after 50. or that women are weaker than men, so they get old earlier and are incapable of work.
it's not that they don't know. those who care to know could easily find out the facts about anything, it is just a push of a button away, thanks to the internet. but they resist accepting this knowledge. they fear shaking their conventional wisdom, which is the spine of their life in this society.
again we will face the same question: how can we change a whole culture? and it is here that i have to pause.
i'd like to thank you for supporting this blog in such a wonderful way. moreover, you keep generating endless topics worthy of discussion. and the way you care to expose truth and make useful suggestions, causes me to believe that our generation is not that bad after all. there is lots of energy and attention to public concerns in your words. and this is a very good reason to be optimistic.

Miss Egyptiana "Trapped Soul" said...

dearest fantasia

i have been thru such a conversation before, i couldnt actually understand what's wrong with being divorced ... it was ugly hearing the other girlz whispers on her, saying she is divorced, as if it a kind of disease

moreover, i understand the worries of the married woman, cause it is pretty common that a man fall for the divorcee friend, for she is a wounded woman, and that can raise the feeling of heroism in the man's heart... and some divorcee may wish to destroy her friends house out of envy, or whatever psychological problem she suffers from

some women really suffer from this fact
some women really deserve to be divorced

some women are innocent
and some are not that innocent

i am not into discriminating anyone for any reason, but one has to be careful cause nofos el nas ba2et we7sha awe

thanks for te lovely post dear and waiting for more ... and allow me to congratulate you for your second blog

have a warm peacful day

Fantasia said...

dear egyptiana,
missed your posts. waiting for the next one. and please let it be soon.
of course not all women are innocent my dear. that's human nature. but what i am against is to classify a divorcee as evil by default. a single girl can be more evil. so why do we only focus on divorced women? chances are you will find only very few of them to meet this horrible image. those i don't care about. but the majority who suffer for nothing except that they have been divorced, what about them? having preconceptions and stereotyping people is our worst vice in the egyptian society. we stick labels on each person to decide where he/she belongs. i wouldn't have needed to create this blog if it was not for the negative stereotypical female image. this is the reason behind all problems. some women are weak. some women are bad. some women are stupid. some women are dependant. i don't deny any of that. but these are only a few. why am i getting punished for their mistakes or failures? why do laws treat all women as if they are criminals? is it a crime if i wish to end my marriage? of course you may find among the 50,000 lawsuits filed for divorce like 50 or 100 who lie. does this deserve the incredible suffering of the rest? and even if a woman lies in order to leave her husband, why is she forced to live with this man? can they lead a normal life by any means? and why do men have an open licence to divorce their wives for no reason whatsoever? won't that destroy families and harm society in general? why are women the only ones punished for leaving a marriage?
all of this injustice results from false preconceptions and stereotypes about women. they need to be always under control because they are thought to be crazy. i can issue a certificate which proves that 100% free of any symptoms related to craziness, yet i'll still be treated as crazy as long as i am a woman. it's like a curse. a similar curse is following divorced women for no reason.
and as i said in the dialogue, what if a husband left his wife for her friend who happened to be a divorcee? does this mean that things would have been different if she was single? she is the same person. and if he falls for her, then congratulations.. lucky is his wife. who wants to live with a man who doesn't love her?
thanks for your warm wishes and i certainly hope that your would leave your mark on my second blog as well. always care to know your feedback, egyptiana.

اجندا حمرا said...

my dearest fantasia

you r right divorce became so very expensive maybe like marriage as well but the thing is we should never resent to it before trying all the ways we can to reconcile specially if we have kids but in the end if it is impossible that there will be no other way

as i told u before ,families now r treating marriages from the start as if it 's gonna end in divorce ,they say it is for keeping their daughter's rights but asking for too much puts stress over the marriage

people's view of a divorcee also is something very shameful,they look at her as if she is a man's cheater i dont know from where they got such point of view ,they think she is a free lady they can do with her whatever they like

maybe fantasia that's why lots of women stay with their abusive husbands fearing the society and the people's views of being divorced,they tell themsevles dl ragel wala dl 7ta and they r harming themselves more than they can imagine

thank u for the wonderful post fantasia and congratulations for your new blog sure im gonna visit it

my best regards to you dear

Fantasia said...

dear agenda,
welcome back.. and it is wonderful to read your comments after this period of absence.
divorce is a very painful experience in itself, so i really feel for the women who have to go through divorce and then facing legal procedures and social loathe. the typical image of the evil and non-ethical divorcee is caging more women into unhappy marriages. people just judge from the surface that it has become easier to get a divorce because the numbers are deceiving. those are not even 1/4 of the failed marriages. they can only reflect the huge defects that the egyptian marriage instituion is filled with.
still society prefers to keep its eyes closed and pretend that nothing's out of order. for how long can we continue like this? are we ready to pay the price? doesn't the large number of street children ring any bell? why are we so afraid of facing our problems?
thanks agenda for your nice feelings. you are always supportive and courteous. looking forward to your feedback on the new blog.

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid" - Audre Lorde