No Help For Saudi Spinsters


Spinsters Denied Financial Help
By Abdulhadi Al-Rabie
Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Taif
15 January 2009

The stigma of spinsterhood looms in the Kingdom with no help as the Ministry of Social Affairs has denied reports that the ministry would provide monthly financial assistance to spinsters in the Kingdom, estimated at a new high of 1.5 million, an informed source at the ministry said.

The ministry classifies spinsters as women who have reached the ‘optimum age’ of marriage, 35, without getting married. In Saudi society, the term ‘spinster’ could be used as a derogatory description of unmarried females regardless of any reference to age.

The increasing number of spinsters in the Kingdom has prompted the Ministry of Social Affairs to start a thorough investigation of this emerging phenomenon in the Saudi society, the source said.

The problem has sent an alarming message to the authorities. “It is as problematic as unemployment,” the source said. If left alone, it could create social problems among the rising female population in the Kingdom, the source added. The Kingdom’s population reached about 27.6 million last year including foreigners and females constitute 45.5 percent of the population. Statistics indicate that spinsters make up 18.5 percent of the Saudi women.

A report published by the Ministry of Planning said that women are slowly overpowering men in population count and this is sure to create a problem in the future.

The Shoura Council recently decided it was not time to simplify marriage laws concerning Saudis marrying foreigners, believing that would aggravate the problem of spinsterhood in the Kingdom.

It is, however a complicated process for Saudi women to marry foreigners as the Shoura Council refuses to streamline marriage laws when it comes to marrying non-Saudis.

Complicating the league of unmarried females in the Kingdom is the soaring divorce rate which has reached more than 30 percent, according to a report from the Ministry of Social Affairs published earlier this year. Talal Bakri, head of the committee for family affairs at the Shoura Council, told media that a majority of husbands were resorting to reckless pronouncements of divorce, and not informing their wives, who were then “shocked” to receive divorce papers.


Published by

Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

12 thoughts on “No Help For Saudi Spinsters”

  1. >I have been blurjing here for a while… but this is hilarious!!Of course relaxing laws around Saudi’s marrying foreigners is not the best idea to reduce spinsterhood in the Kingdom.. why would that be considered to be an intelligent way forward!!For a country that wants to maintain control over every aspect of there citizens lives, you would think that they would act more on the increasing amount of men having misyar marriages with poorer foreign women rather then reducing the chances a “spinster” women might have in marrying someone, Saudi or not…It just doesn’t make sense!!!


  2. >I don’t understand why spinsterhood is a problem in a country where men are allowed four wives. Supposedly one of the reasons for this is because there are so many more women than men, but the statistics say otherwise. So why not make it easier for Saudi women to marry foreigners? None of it makes sense to me at all… like MANY things here in the Kingdom.


  3. >Anonymous,Ahhh the misyar marriages. This is when no Saudi needs permission to be secretive about their marriage, when a Saudi man doesn’t need permission to lead a double life and engage in lying to the first wife and his children and when some Saudi women don’t need permission to use this kind of marriage to fleece unsuspecting husbands of their money. Then WHY do Saudis need permission to enter into marriages with non-Saudis? I get the impression that the government trusts Saudis to act in their best interests when involved in misyar marriages however they are acting in the best interest of Saudis by not easing marriages between non-Saudis.Did I make sense?


  4. >Susie,I really think the problem lies with Saudi womens’ changed attitudes when it comes to polygamy nowadays. These days are not like the old days when polygamy was much encouraged and even expected. My husband told me the Saudi women of bygone days were smart, they would bond with their co-wives like sisters and help each other. There is a new law where the Saudi man must get permission from his first wife before he can register a second marriage. In my opinion, this law can also be attributed to the rising spinsterhood amongst Saudi women if the first wives are always refusing the husbands to take on additional wives. Then I guess they then resort to misyar marriages hmmm.


  5. >Oh and the Saudi man could even divorce the first wife if she doesn’t give him the permission to marry again and marry a new wife in her place! Which would then add to the already soaring divorce rates.


  6. >Hi There,Making complete sense!In the “western” world we definitley can’t say that we do marriage any better or that our divorce rates are better!!!I guess what we take for granted in a western society is that we always have choice…It just really sad when a “government” and I use that term loosly feel the need to control what is a very personal aspect of a someones life.Have the government stopped to think that these people wanting to partake in mixed marriages will just end up leaving Saudi for good to be with their loved ones? I wonder what the law will hold for that scenario!!


  7. >many things in ksa are not Islamic. not allowing a saudi woman to marry a foreign man is not in keeping with Islam. of course her family needs to meet him, check him out thoroughly, make sure he’s a good muslim, it ought to be up to the family and the woman as to whom she marries-not the govt., if the govt doesn;t want to give passports to the foreign spouses-so be it, but don;t make it impossible for a saudi woman to find happiness. i’ve heard of many stories here of saudi women who find a good saudi man to marry but her family refuses for one reason or another, usually because he’s not in her tribe—and it leaves her living at home forever longing for what she couldn;t have. God help people to wake up.


  8. >The problem does not belong to Saudis only (i am talking about muslim societies). And it is not only about women. The more the society (i mean the muslims) corrupts (i mean get away from islam) the more such and other problems we will encounterMa’assalamSerhat, from Istanbul


  9. >Serhat,It has to start with correcting our aqeedah and gaining knowledge of our deen. The more knowledge we have and put it into action according to Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him), the more we fear Allah and respect each other’s Islamic rights.


  10. >"There is a new law where the Saudi man must get permission from his first wife before he can register a second marriage. In my opinion, this law can also be attributed to the rising spinsterhood amongst Saudi women…" -TaraIts not just a new law, its actually a ruling from the Maliki school (at least). You could also argue that this law may decrease divorce, because there may be higher rates of divorce from women divorcing their husbands because they went and married against her wishes.I think the high rates of divorce are due to 1) high mahr, 2) the rise in internet pornography and 3) the inability of the Saudi government to facilitate international marriages because they are still mired in notions of protecting tribal purity.Allahu alim!


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