During one of the women-teaching English lessons, my friend, the teacher, came to her mind to open a space for discussion and interaction by mentioning the word ‘Divorce’. However, once she mentioned the it, one of the women reacted by saying ‘may Allah keep us away from that’. Subsequent reactions went on against the same phrase ‘Divorce’ – divorce is one of the most frequent vices inflicting women.
However the husband is worse with his wife and children, and whatever he is ill-behaved with unbearable traits, and however a woman gets burned by the fire of jealousy her husband being with another wife, or being beaten or abused and insulted by him, then staying at the house of her husband and bearing with his imprudence remains better than going back to her parents’ house divorcing. That time, everybody will look at her suspiciously once she wants to get out or even go to job. She is the divorced woman where people’s gossiping is inexorable. As such, she will become a burden at her family’s house because of the extra expenses and especially that she brings her young children with her. She will become the maidservant for her brothers’ wives without and gratitude in return, but rather she will be the one who has to offer thanks as they hosted her as well as her children after divorce. Most often, she will be forced to leave the custody of her children putting them under the mercy of her husband; that is because they don’t need to grow up children of a stranger.
It has been well known that all women fear divorce regardless of their environment, educational level, and family life situation. I have already been convinced that those who fear divorce are only the customary uneducated housewives, or the unemployed who don’t have a fixed salary or permanent position. Amidst these environment, a common phrase about men ‘wherever he goes, east or west, he will come back home at the end’ is the most common phrase. This is to mean that a man has a lot of whims outside home. However, he remains a man and nothing wrong with him. On the other end, woman is the one who takes care of children and home at his absence, that is her role and the man will come back home sooner or later.
Divorce percentage has risen a bit amongst educated women and those who has a fixed salary where they become more dauntless to seek divorce once marriage life reaches to an end. However, they encounter several obstacles as well some of them are revealed of the importance of keeping parents together and avoid familial disintegration or children vagrancy. Another thing is the interference of parents and society in their lives where their life turns into hell after divorce. Hence, all others’ interference in their own affairs and their behaviours become legal right for the brother, the uncle, and even distant relatives. However, a few percentage amongst them can maintain amidst such kind of deadly siege. While a lot others prefer silent and emotional divorce to court divorce and publicized one. A divorced woman would stay with her husband at home where each of them has his own life.
In another case for an educated women of good income! Her husband left their marital house for three years and she knew that he was doing the act of infidelity. However, she refused divorce thoroughly. Nevertheless, when I explained to her that divorce is the best resolution at her situation, especially that she can live alone, she told me that there isn’t any divorce case in her family and her brothers absolutely refuse her divorce and she can’t confront them.
In one case for a woman who insisted to be divorced. Surprisingly, once she returned her parents’ home, she couldn’t bear their interference in her own life affairs. Thus, she intended to seek marriage as a resolution from a man older than her, 25 years her senior, just to flee the hell as a divorced woman.
In the light of Divorcing Law of Personal Status, it can be realized that a husband can divorce his wife whenever he wants conditioned by paying her dowry completely with a children monthly expenditure if they are in the age of custody.
The arbitrary divorce is another type, in which the man divorces his woman without any evident reasons. In such a case, if it has become clear to the judge that the husband was hasty in taking the divorce decision without showing any clear reasons, and if , as a result of that the wife will be inflicted by poverty and hunger, then he will have the right to judge against the divorcer according to his financial situation and the range of hastiness, with a compensation that doesn’t exceed an amount of three years expenditure of a similar situation, in addition to the expenditure of Oudda ( a period of three months a divorced woman spends hidden from the public).
Of course, the divorced woman has not got the right to stay in the marital house even if her children are at the age of custody but rather she has to go back to her parents’ house where she doesn’t have the right to get any piece of furniture even if she has been employed and contributed to buying them as long as she doesn’t have any purchase receipts or substantial evidences for owning any of them. However, when a wife requests divorce, she loses all the rights to get her dowry fully, and sometimes she receives some of them once looking upon the reasons of divorce by the judge. The most commonly is that the husband rarely divorce his wife in order to avoid giving her dowry and pay children’s expenditure as along as he is able to leave her ( avoid sexual relation), or get marry twice, thrice and for the fourth time. In that sense, when husband reaches to an end of the impossibility of living with his wife, he starts to deal with her cruelly until she requests divorce, and in that case she will lose all her financial rights throughout the law.
There is a one-and-only type of divorce that partially preserve the rights of woman, the Consensual Divorce ( Mukhala’ah), whereby both spouses apply in the court for divorce with a prior-agreement on all the financial conditions between themselves. This type rarely happens with expectations within the educated or bourgeoisie classes. Divorced woman is always concerned about taking her children by the husband when they exceed the legal age for custody.
Most notably in the last two years of the crisis is the rising percentage of divorce in the Syrian community. The senior Shari’a Judge in Damascus ‘Muhammad Alma’arrawi’ has revealed, that according to statistics available in Damascus Shari’a Court, there is a notable increase in the number of various divorce lawsuits wherefore during the years preceding crisis, 3000 divorce lawsuits used to be documented per one year; however, this number rose during the crisis to hit 7300 lawsuits during 2016!
I think that this is attributed to women’s experience of the various types of tortures during these years; like losing their boys, displacement, vagrancy, hunger, and ravages of war. Ironically, divorce has become one of the easiest vices especially with the familial disintegration and the absence of the big family for most of Syrian communities. This is because asylum seeking, displacement, travelling, and killing contributed greatly to the evolution of this situation and, thus, led to a decrease in the number of those who interfere in such kind of decisions.
Moreover, bigger numbers of women, amidst the absence of their husbands and boys, went out facing society in order to offer patronage for their children, and entered work market with its diversity. Therefore, it has been a legal right for them to request divorce from their lost husbands in order to be able to continue their life normally in case they found another life partner.
More and more, what have increased divorce cases is family vagrancy in which the father and mother’s situation range between displaced, refugee status, and staying inside the country itself. On the other side, a lot more of women cases once reaching any overseas country, mainly the European ones, they request divorce from their husbands, those who once feared divorce while being in their original country. That happens because the hosting country ensures a house for women and their children.
Finally, we should highlight here the importance of updating Law of Personal Status relating to divorce provisions, taking into account woman’s and child’s interests, and the necessity of considering marital house a right for woman as long as her children are at the age of custody, and especially with the repercussions of the Syrian Crisis and the negative remaining impact at woman’s situation in general and the divorced in particular.
Exclusive to SWN – Syrian Women’s Network