Basira

Provisions concerning divorce in the legal system that enhance violations of Women’s rights.

Written by Ahlam Akram
The common say in the Arab Muslim world that women are the Jewels that should be protected, yet the discrepancies in the legal system violate that protection.

Under the pretence that the family male member will take financial care of the woman for life, and in all circumstances, women are not prepared  psychologically to face life financial demands, along with a serious lack of education that could allow them to be self-reliant and financially independent before, within and outside of marriage. Women face the biggest shock when they face divorce, and for the first time in their lives have to deal with the financial burdens that life require.

Areas of discrimination in  divorce cases:

First and most, the Husband have the sovereign right to divorce, while if a woman asks for divorce she will have to give up any of her rights, such as her belated dowry – alimony – custody of the children.

And the only case that a woman could get divorce within 6 months which is known as khul’ is if she gives up in advance all her rights and returns back her upfront dowry that was paid at the wedding, which in many cases her father could have taken it.

Second, the husband have the right to divorce his wife if she is barren, but a woman is denied that right if he was the one unable to have children.

Areas of violations of women’s rights in divorce cases:

A divorced woman is first and foremost denied custody of her children if she remarries, which effectively puts her between a rock and a hard place.

She has to either deny herself the right to a normal life – whilst her ex-husband is enjoying another marriage – or lose her children to be brought up by a stepmother.

In any case, whether she remarries or not, custody reverts back to the father when the children reach seven years of age and they have no right of choice to be with their mother.

A divorced woman gets only her belated dowry which diminishes by the increased rate of inflation, thus she becomes a burden on her family, and she is  completely denied co-ownership of the material assets that has been acquired during the years of marriage.

There is also a big contradiction between the claim that Islam gave women freedom to work and to manage their own financial affairs, whilst some Political Islamic thinkers want to implement the Quranic verse that urges women to stay at home and thus turn the management of their money and assets back to their guardians.

The above begs the question of how many women in the Arab world who can actually support themselves emotionally, psychologically (if they have to lose their children) and financially during and after marriage; for such rules become a violation of equality and justice that should be owed to them and which must be the essence of the law.

We in Basira believe it is the governments who are morally responsible and must empower women, especially those who come from a financially or a culturally under-privileged background, by implementing a just legal system to protect their dignity.