The challenges of being a divorcee in the GCC

In Kuwait and in other GCC states, unfortunately, there is a cultural stigma around divorced women, yet there are none for divorced men, as if divorced women are somehow less effective in getting back to married life compared to divorced men. The only logical explanation of this cultural attitude is sexism. And it is carefully hidden behind the curtains of social taboos. This whole manner of treating divorcees in my society is sexist, and it is my goal to expose these fallacies that have prompted divorced women to tolerate feeling sorry for themselves, as if they are in jail.
There are a number of popular social ideas that created this stigma, that I feel the need to shed some light on.

1. “A virgin will be more loyal.”
2. Divorcees will persist on comparing the new husband to the old; thus he will have the burden of having to continuously “win” over his lady.
3. Women are sculpted by men, therefore, it is simply either too late or too tiresome to have an already sculptured women as a wife, and sadly by sculptured I mean disciplined, as if marriage is some kind of a police academy or a psychiatry clinic.
First of all, loyalty is not dependent on anything other than a person’s moral code and not on his psychological dispositions. In fact men have a tougher time in this department, according to statistics. Secondly, a divorcee has already been detached from her previous knight-in-shining armor who lost his chance of making her happy with him. Thus, she is in more urgent need to replace him. And lastly, women are the sculptors of people’s perceptions and lifestyle more than “hunters” are or were, since time immemorial.

I created a small survey from a few divorcees to hear their answers with Kuwait Times readers:
1. Do you feel that your society’s point of view of you changed after your divorce?
“Certainly, people’s way of looking at me did change. Some saw me as a strong woman, because I went through all of this alone. Some saw that it was best for me to stay on with my ex-husband.”
2. Was divorce easy or difficult for you?
“It is never easy psychologically nor procedurally. Because it is never easy to destroy a dream.”
3. Did you feel divorce was your last recourse?
“I had two choices. Either to stay and endure all the disappointments and sorrows, or venture back to being single and start rebuilding my life again. I chose the latter, and it was the right choice, thank God.”

By Jeri Al-Jeri

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