Well this is disturbing…
In an alarming trend, middle aged working women in the Kingdom are being stripped of their salaries and wages by unemployed husbands, reported Al-Nadwa newspaper.
With many Saudis struggling to finds jobs, unemployed men are resorting to unethical methods of marrying hardworking women with good salaries. It seems women are being left with only two choices: Either to live as single women with their salaries and dignity intact or marry men who exploit and abuse the very foundation of love and care on which marriages are based.
…Another woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, tragically spent over 15 years with an unemployed abusive husband with whom she had five children. She said: Ã¢??I tolerated him for over 15 years even though he was unemployed. I used to look after the house while he would take money from me. If I refused to give him anything he would beat me.Ã¢?Â
The woman used to give the man her entire salary and even bought some land, which she registered under his name under the impression that he wanted to build a new house for the family. The woman says her husband then built a house using her money.
Ã¢??One month after it was built, I received some divorce papers with a court letter evicting me from the house. This monster had married another woman and was bringing her to the very house that I had built. He has no heart and is kicking my children and I out onto the streets.Ã¢?Â [Arab News]
(the title for the article is rather funny and I’m pretty sure a man came up with it)
Note that this is in Saudi Arabia but it happens all over the Arab world and Jordan is not a stranger to it. There is in fact a growing trend for “men” to marry women who will support them, or even worse, they marry rich. Although I find one thing strange about this, isn’t this on some level just a new way of equating the sexes? The traditional roles of man being the breadwinner and the woman being the home maker are changing. There is an on going battle for equality, which defies all the traditional social norms.
As liberal as we get, we still have these pre-determined social roles. In the article an Islamic scholar points out that the earnings of a woman according to Islam are her own. In other words in Islam a man is supposed to be the primary breadwinner so even if his wife makes 60,000 JDs a year and decides she doesn’t want to contribute a single JD to the household, the man is still held accountable (by religious standards) for maintaining the house. This of course doesn’t happen; instead we have situations like what was illustrated in the article, where a lazy husband steals his wife’s money.
But putting religion aside, when the woman works and her husband doesn’t and she asks him to get a job and he refuses, is this the same as the other way around? Is it the same as a situation where the husband works and asks his wife to get a job and she refuses? In the current social norms this latter situation is almost unheard of, it’s just not done. Everyone expects the husband to be the sole provider and if the wife has a job, well then good for her, she can decide whether she wants to contribute to the household or not. And given the current economic climate in most (middle class) marriages this is what happens. But switch those roles around; do you get the same results? What about a man marrying rich?