Divorce trends in the Middle East: Israel, Qatar, UAE, Pakistan, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq

Divorce in the Middle East can be dangerous business when you are female. For certain, divorce is still very much frowned upon in the Middle East. These societies are still largely paternalistic and women are still largely viewed as chattel and property.  It can be very difficult for women to get divorced in these countries. Often she has to front an high dowry. Or the husband can refuse to give her a divorce. And the process can take a very, very long time which often ends up being never. But this way of looking at women as property is really problematic. Thus, asking for a divorce in many Middle Eastern countries can leave many women in physical danger. One of the themes coming out of the Middle East within this context of women and divorce is that of the “Honor Killing.”  Honor killings are horrific, dishonorable and ghastly things that happen to women in the Middle East (in some countries more than others) who “shame” their husbands and families by doing things like: having an extra-martial affair, getting married without permission or asking for a divorce.  A woman can be permanently disfigured, maimed or murdered by her husband or members of her family or in laws just for asking for a divorce.
Within the legal system which is largely based on Islamic Sharia law, men who commit this types of atrocious acts are usually sanctioned.  He may spend a few months in prison initially, but ultimately he will be released under exceptions to the prohibition on murder. There is an “anger” provision in many of these legal codes in these countries in the Middle East that basically says that anger is a mitigating circumstance and if a woman is murdered for honor, then more than likely it is as a result of anger which is mitigating, and so the perpetrator will not spend much time in jail for this crime.
Many of these husbands and family members who kill a woman for reasons such as for the fact that she asked for a divorce are totally remorseless. One guy on CNN documentary said that he not only killed his wife, but he killed her mother and sister because she did not “take care of him.” She did not “sit with him when he was sitting alone.” She did not “make him happy.” Another woman asked for a divorce and her husband who was a doctor took her back to the Middle East and had 65 people in his immediate family waiting there for her to tell her that she was a prostitute and to ask her father to cleanse her dishonor by murdering her.  Typically a father in this circumstance would comply with the wishes of his daughter’s husband. But her father couldn’t do  it, so he sent her to UK but she was banished from their lives–and dispossessed of any contact with her minor children. Because, by asking for a divorce, she had dishonored not just her husband, but his entire family and her entire family. She was one of the lucky minority of women in situations like this who managed to get out of there alive.
Divorce is the Middle East, therefore, can be very dangerous business when you are a woman. Woe be unto the unfortunate woman who is born in a country where to ask for a divorce could mean a dishonourable death.