Divorce in the Middle East isn’t a topic we often discuss, even though it has a number of fundamental differences from marriage in the rest of the world. Many marriages in the Middle East are still arranged not for love, but for status and wealth. Then again, times are quickly changing, and divorce rates are on the rise even as they start to level out in many Western countries.
Women have never had it easy, and their struggles are perhaps even more arduous in the Middle Eastern countries where they have fewer rights or legal avenues to fight the injustices done to them.
Women in particular often can’t settle a divorce without their husband’s consent. That leads to obvious problems if a husband isn’t willing to cooperate in a loveless marriage or one in which domestic violence is present. Men, on the other hand, are often freely allowed to divorce their wives without cooperation or consent if the differences are said to be irreconcilable. Because men can use this leverage at any time, women are prone to greater anxiety than their husbands.
Women in the Middle East are more likely to struggle with poverty after a divorce and inherit less. This is better than it was in the far-past when women were lucky to inherit anything at all. Even though these laws favor men to an unfortunate extreme, the men in the Middle East still bear much of the financial burden of maintaining their homes.
These differences tend to make the social status differences between men and women much more pronounced. One of the reasons that the status quo has not changed more quickly is because Islamic law is generally based on the Qur’an, where these ideas are founded. Although many laws were borrowed from Europe over the past few centuries, divorce laws have stayed mostly the same.
Women have made civil rights gains in Turkey, Tunisia, and Somalia most notably because the governments of these countries and states are less dependent on the dominant religions throughout the rest of the Middle East. Other countries have done their best to follow suit, giving women the right to face their husbands in court to plead a case. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries in which divorce laws seem completely unchanged.