A new trend in Saudi Arabia: Divorce parties!

Arab News | 21 Jumadal Ula 1436/13 March 2015

I’m honored to invite you to my divorce party.” This is the type of invitation now being sent out by increasing numbers of women wanting to celebrate the end of their marriages.
Just like weddings or graduation parties, these events are being held at the fanciest halls, with large amounts of money spent on hosting friends and family. The guests are also obliged to turn up with expensive gifts for the happy woman.
This is a new phenomenon in Saudi society, says Tariq Habib, a professor and psychiatrist, and assistant secretary general of the Union of Arab Psychiatrists.
Divorce clearly results in feelings of sadness and happiness, he said.
Habib, however, said that parents should take their children’s feelings into consideration.
“If these parties negatively influence the children socially and psychologically, then they should be canceled,” he said.
“But if the couple don’t have any children then no one can prevent the woman from expressing her joy or having a celebration.”
He said women may want to celebrate because they have left a failed marriage or show their ex-husbands that they do not care about them.
Suhaila Zain Al-Abideen, a member of the National Society for Human Rights, said celebrations have been triggered by the difficulty women face in getting divorced.
“Women living under injustice, humiliation and misery are the ones who will celebrate. It is not unreasonable that an absolutely happy person celebrates her divorce under these circumstances,” Al-Abideen said.
Al-Abideen does not believe that children would be affected if their mothers are happy.
“Although separations affect children, they would be happy to see their mothers happy, especially if their fathers had abused their mothers,” she said.
Mohammad Al-Saidi, professor of Islamic law at Umm Al-Qura University, said God hates divorce, as confirmed in Hadith, and that people should not celebrate a social tragedy even if they are happy about it.
Al-Saidi urged the media to raise concerns about these parties, and to encourage people not to attend them. “This will cause future tragedies,” he said.
Sahar Rajjab, a certified physiologist and family counselor at the Arab Council, said Saudi nationals should not imitate the West by having these parties, even if they are extremely angry.
“The divorce parties are increasing in an alarming rate,” she said.
“How can guests celebrate women divorcing when they had previously congratulated them on their wedding days?”
Rajab said there is an industry growing around divorce parties, with cake and sweet shops starting to make products for these occasions. This is an unwelcome development, she said.
Social specialist Haifa Safouk said that some women celebrate simply to seek attention.
“There are many reasons for this behavior, but mostly it is because such women are ignorant and not intellectually mature.”
She said some women celebrate because society does not show them any compassion, so it is a way of releasing their frustration and negative feelings.
In addition, the guests invited to these events turn up because they want to support these divorcees. This is not the proper way to show support, she said.
Number of unmarried women sharply rising, say experts

Published — Sunday 15 March 2015

As delaying the age of marriage for both young men and women in the Kingdom has become more common, experts say the number of unmarried women has increased in recent years.
The number has grown 15 times in comparison to 1995, according to official statistics. The Kingdom is thus in second place among countries in which the percentage of single people has increased over the past two decades.
Delaying the age of marriage and the growing number of single women are undoubtedly closely linked, experts say. While many young people choose to delay marriage until they are socially and psychologically ready, many women find themselves in situations where their chances of marriage have significantly narrowed.
Among the several reasons that lead to a delay in marriage are the higher costs of living and greater financial responsibilities, says economist Dr. Salem Bajajah. Many young men are unable to afford property and meet household costs and so choose to work longer and accumulate more money.
Bajajah called on authorities to revaluate employees’ salaries in order to maintain a standard above the established poverty line. Recent surveys indicate that SR8,000 is a minimum subsistence requirement.
Social views and realities also contribute to delayed marriage, says Aisha Hattan, a social worker at the Society for Family Protection in Jeddah. “Exaggerated requirements for marriage these days, such as big weddings, parties, social appearances, as well as new ways of thinking among young women suggesting that they choose careers and independence, have all had their influences on the age for marriage.”
Dr. Khaled bin Omar Al-Radeean, an associate professor of sociology at King Saud University, says such views are common among both men and women.
In addition to factors such as psychological and intellectual preparedness, psychologists cite high marriage costs, the lack of job opportunities, a weakness of religious faith and society’s perception of youth as unproductive and inefficient influence many to delay the age of marriage.