It could happen to anyone. My heart goes out to this mother. No woman should be subjected to a situation in which she is forced to choose between herself or her children. Its merciless and oppressive. From this unfortunate circumstance of her friend, Nzingha gives a gentle warning to those foreign women who want to marry Saudis. Thank you Nzingha, for allowing me to post this to my blog.
WHEN ANY DECISION SEEMS WRONG
9 March 2009
It was one of those situations which read straight out of a book. A call from a friend who is in immediate fear of her husband needs help. You want to do all you can but than realize how limited the options are when you are a woman, especially a foreign woman, married to a Saudi and living in his land. In an instant your reminded, no matter how comfortable your own world may be, that mothers in Saudi are often left to make one of the most difficult decisions in her life. She has to choose to stay in a home in which she fears for her safety or to leave with her health intact but her children behind.
My heart ached as this mother, my friend, sat in a slump with tears in her eyes and said “I don’t see why I’m the one who has to leave my children.” No amount of reasoning from any Saudi official can justify the sacrifices of a mother caught in these situations. While there is some hope that a Saudi woman will have some rights to see her children, even if it is only on weekends she at least can remain in the same country. A foreign woman, having no family support in Saudi and no legal right to be in the country besides her husbands sponsorship has to leave the country. Be it in a desperate attempt to save herself from a bad situation or by the force of a husband who no longer wants to remain married to her.
In love thinking ‘my husband would never be that’ many foreign women land in Saudi Arabia thinking their love will conquer all. While that may hold true for some families it doesn’t hold true for all. So what happens when your marriage goes down the tubes and your several children past an easy decision to pick up and leave? What rights do foreign women have in a land that in one breath boasts of family connections and that heaven lies under the feet of ones mothers? Not many to speak of unless you give up your own countries passport and become a Saudi left to fight on your own, with no help from others, be it family too many miles away or friends who simply, out of cultural fear, won’t stand up for the weaker in the situation and do the right thing.
I rode in the car along side of my friend wishing I could do more than take her to find a taxi to Bahrain. I felt even worse that I couldn’t drive her to the airport myself as the driver didn’t have the proper papers. I sat with her as she waited for a taxi, promising to look in on her kids, thinking of ways she can be close to them, possibly return without her husband, and slowly realizing no amount of plans will make any of this right for her. In tears she left like so many other women who have had to make such a difficult choice. Thinking, I’m sure, of only her children, boys who at the age of 21 can finally leave the country on their own not needing their fathers permission, girls who will always need the permission of others. Hopes of a reunion one day in the future, knowing all to well it will be a long time off and in some cases might never even happen.
Nothing I could say or do would comfort my friend. So before you ladies, with hearts full of love and romantic idealism, leave for the land of hot sun and dusty sand ask yourself if you could ever stand to choose between your own sanity and safety and having your children. Unfortunately you too could be making this decision and unlike story books this won’t have a happy ending.