Divorced Woman Pleads To Stay In The Kingdom
Badea Abu Al-Naja
MAKKAH: A 30-year-old Arab woman, who was married to a Saudi, has made a plea to officials to help her stay in the Kingdom and see her four children.
The woman, called Zainab, told Arab News at a government shelter how she came to the Kingdom around 11 years ago and married a Saudi man. “Six months ago, my husband brutally beat me and kicked me out of the house. I went to the police who summoned my husband for questioning. He denied beating me and claimed I beat him. He then divorced me,” said Zainab, a mother of five children between the ages of ten and ten months.
“I told the police that I had a baby who needed breastfeeding. They asked my ex-husband to bring him to me, which he did the next day. I ended up staying in a shelter with my baby for two months,” she added.
“After that my uncle came to help me out. He rented an apartment in Makkah and got me out of the shelter. After a month, he was forced to go back home and I had to vacate the apartment. I stayed with my ex-husband’s aunt for over a month,” she said, adding she was not able to see her children during the entire period. “Worse followed, when my uncle traveled outside, my ex-husband complained to the police that I had an illegitimate relationship with my uncle’s sponsor. I was referred to the General Prosecution and Investigation Board (GPIB), which cleared me,” she said.
“A month ago, my uncle came back and tried to take me out of the shelter but the officials there asked him to bring a permit from the police to take me out of the shelter. When my uncle went to the police, they asked him to get permission from the GPIB. At this time, the Makkah Governorate issued a decision to deport me because my iqama (residential permit) had expired,” she said.
“When the deportation order came, the passport authorities asked the police whether they should deport me alone or with my baby. This debate has been continuing for five months. During this time I filed a lawsuit to gain custody of two of my other children who are five and six.” Zainab said she then took her case to the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR) who sympathized with her and supported her in her fight to gain custody of all of her children, especially since her ex-husband’s new wife is mistreating them. The NSHR asked the governorate to stop deportation procedures until the courts settle her custody case.
“I only want custody of my children, and the ability to renew my iqama or transfer it to a new sponsor,” she said. Dr. Ibrahim Al-Zamzami, a lawyer, said infants who are still breastfeeding should not be separated from their mothers and should remain with them during the entire nursing period. He said foreigners cannot be deported if they are involved in ongoing court cases. He added foreign divorcees could ask to have their children with them while custody cases continue.