Prices paid by divorced women at parents’ home and in society

AI-generated image (Enab Baladi)

AI-generated image (Enab Baladi)


Enab Baladi – Noor al-Haj

“I heard them at the party saying that I am divorced, when one of the attendees was expressing her admiration for me, talking about her intention to propose to me for her son,” said Fareeda (22 years old), residing in Istanbul, Turkey. This is one of countless situations she has faced recently, expressing her regret for the stigma that society attaches to a divorced woman throughout her life, even if neither divorce nor marriage was her choice, and the hardest part, Fareeda says, is when these situations come from women of her own gender, fulfilling the proverb, ‘women are women’s worst enemies.’

She married when she was 19 years old, “I did not understand life or even myself,” Fareeda, who has been divorced for about two years, said. She thought she loved this young man, and it was good to marry the one she loved, wear a white dress, and be a bride, and that life would be easy. Later, she discovered different things, and conflicts arose between them, “he insulted and hit me. Despite all the harm he caused me, I intended to be patient, hoping that he would change, but he divorced me,” Fareeda said.

Despite knowing all the previous details, when I returned to my parents’ house as a divorced woman, they tightened things up on me in every little and big thing, “Don’t go out, don’t dress up, don’t talk to so-and-so,” with terms like, “You’re divorced and everyone’s watching, every move you make is accounted for, you’re not like before,” not to mention the pressure to accept whoever proposes to me even if they were much older than me.

With difficulty, I convinced them that I would work to help them and support myself, and here I am working today in a beauty salon, where I learned a lot about this profession and think about opening a small shop for myself soon. However, my life is not easy. I thank God that this marriage ended without having children. I wonder what it would be like if I had children. I think my life would have been much more difficult as a divorced mother.

The male-dominated society

The male dominance that has prevailed in the world, especially in Eastern societies, is the primary reason behind this stigma, as confirmed by the social and family specialist Mahmoud al-Hassan, adding that the legislator in our societies legislates what suits him of laws and customs, whether social, familial, or otherwise.

According to al-Hassan, these societies criminalize the woman in this issue and frame her in a way that reduces her to a single social role, erasing her other values and roles in life. This happens when tradition and customs dominate in society.

A divorced woman faces true injustice, as aside from societal injustice, she encounters familial injustice. From the moment she returns home with her bags and her divorce papers, the siege begins by the father or brother, even if he is younger than her. Many women have faced violence from their relatives after the divorce over the slightest reasons, coupled with restrictions in every small and large matter, in their food and expenses, especially if they have children.

Women find it difficult to move and even plan their future and decide whether to remarry or not, as per the specialist al-Hassan, noting cases where families married off their divorced daughters to the first suitor to rid themselves of the expense or what they consider the disgrace, and to change their title from divorced to married.

Economic independence

Psychologist Alaa al-Dali believes that the economic situation of the divorced woman and her financial independence also play a role in weakening or strengthening the impact of this stigma. Her ability to bear the responsibility of spending on herself and her children, if present, makes a significant difference, giving her a sense of security, independence, and the ability to say no and to stand up to those who try to infringe on her person or her rights.

A woman returning to her parents’ house as a divorced individual without money or a source of income from work or property lives dependent on her family, feeling the need for someone to financially protect her. Moreover, awareness and education make the woman wiser and stronger in facing society and its view of her as a divorced woman, and they definitely contribute to her ability to obtain job opportunities to achieve her financial independence as well.

Women are their own worst enemies

The social and family specialist Mahmoud al-Hassan confirmed that more than anyone, women stigmatize other women, tarnishing their reputation in their gatherings, and warning their daughters against befriending a divorced woman for fear they might deviate, as if a woman is stripped of her values by her divorce.

In al-Hassan’s view, this stigma of the divorced woman has been transmitted across generations, from a male-negative perspective towards women in general, and divorced women in particular, to convictions and judgments adopted, and possibly issued, even by women towards their gender. Here lies the danger and the crisis.

Al-Hassan pointed out that since the mother raises the children and directly contributes to forming the male’s mentality and convictions from his childhood, the male child absorbs these ideas and her negative judgments towards divorced women, which means in the future, his wife, daughter, colleague, neighbor, and the women in his community may be negatively affected by his thinking or behavior based on these acquired ideas and convictions.

And the mother also influences her daughter, in terms of forming convictions and ideas and judgments about divorce, and about her peers among divorced women, and in many cases, this familial and social upbringing was one of the reasons for some girls’ reluctance to marry, due to what is known as ‘divorce phobia,’ according to specialist al-Hassan.

Psychologist Alaa al-Dali agrees with al-Hassan on the origin of this stigma suffered by a woman upon her divorce, adding that the society’s dominant masculinity focuses more on a woman’s movements and experiences than it does on her male counterparts, even by other women, considering her the weaker element, from the society’s perspective, leading to focusing on her behavior and experiences, and analyzing and scrutinizing her.

On the other hand, reality tends towards issuing unjust judgments against women and specifically divorced women, without considering reasons for separation such as injustice, violence, or untenable marital life for intellectual, economic, or health reasons, among others, or that perhaps the man was the one who decided to separate, without her desire, yet society overlooks all these aspects, focusing on one issue, and dealing with her as guilty.

Al-Dali said that this stigma attached to the divorced woman is not new; it existed before, but it is less severe now than it was previously, thanks to the openness and the significant role of women in life, and their strong entry into the labor market as equal partners with men in various fields, contributing in many societies and families to reducing the severity and negative effects of this stigma on women, whether divorced with children or without.

“If I loved her, I might marry her”

Subhi Mohamed (26 years old) said that times have changed, and previously, when a family member decided to get involved with a divorced woman, rejection was the norm, and prejudgments towards the woman he would engage with were ready and, sadly, often humiliating, sometimes even coming from women before men.

Today, Subhi, a single young man working in a restaurant, believes that if he decides to get involved with a woman who has been previously married and separated for some reason, the decision is his, but on the condition that the marriage is born out of deep love that he cannot forget, “If I loved her, and our minds agreed, I might marry her.”

When asked if there is a difference between a divorced woman with children or without, he replied without thinking, “Of course, let’s be honest,” when she has children, she is a burden, I will have to bear her past, and it will be present in front of me, her children will remind me of her ex-husband at all times, and she will need to communicate with the father of her children, and I am not obliged to deal with this, I am a single young man, and “I can do better.”

Subhi suddenly moves on, citing his uncle’s experience of marrying a divorced woman, saying, “My uncle is divorced, he married a divorced woman about a year ago, and they got along, but maybe because they are in the same situation, if he had been single he probably would have thought more, because their marriage is a family marriage, not the result of a love story.”

Overcoming the stigma

Psychologist Alaa al-Dali finds that the environment to which the divorced girl belongs plays a vital role in the impact of the divorce and her dealing with this stigma. If the social and family environment is negative, it only exacerbates the situation, particularly in terms of the divorced girl’s mental health, as some girls, due to this view of them and this negative dealing with them, respond in ways that may harm them before anyone else, resorting to escaping from their family’s pressure, which did not contain them, to an addiction to tranquillizers, or other unhealthy behaviors in nutrition or accompanying people for the purpose of forgetting and alleviation, without proper selection or controls over these relationships.

The situation worsens if the divorced woman is a mother and not alone, as this creates additional pressure on her that she cannot overcome on her own without family support primarily.

But if the social and family environment contains and supports the divorced girl to continue her life, whether in her work or education, and pushes her towards improvement and overcoming this experience, and regards it as just an experience, and that the important thing is that she learns and matures, of course, with this environment, the divorced woman’s speed of recovery from the shock and overcoming external and societal challenges will be stronger and more rational.

Difficulties in recovery

Fadia (36 years old) faced several attempts of harassment, whether at her workplace at one of the state institutions or even from her close neighbors where she lives in one of Latakia’s suburbs.

Fadia, a mother of three children, the oldest 13 and the youngest eight, separated from her husband less than a year ago due to significant problems that neither party could solve, leaving the house and asking for divorce, and her children stayed with their father because her family refused to accept them with her.

Society in Latakia does not impose as much on divorced women as other societies do, but this does not mean that the divorced woman escapes the stigma and the view targeted at her by a number of bad men, as easy prey, in Fadia’s words.

Fadia, who lives in one of the popular neighborhoods of Latakia city, no longer introduces herself as a divorced woman, trying to conceal her social status every time she meets new people or in front of the employer to avoid repeating situations she describes as disgusting and humiliating.

For example, in her last job as a saleswoman in a clothing store at Hananu Market in Latakia, the shop owner’s treatment of her shifted from professional and formal, less than two months after starting work, to his attempts at physical harassment and verbal transgressions, such as asking her to stay in the shop during lunch break, bringing her food with him, and locking the door, under the pretext of eating without disturbing customers, then he tried to physically harass her and when she objected and tried to put an end to it, he said, “You are divorced and nobody will know anything,” and when he was sure of her definite rejection, he fired her without paying her wage.



النسخة العربية من المقال

Related Articles

  1. Divorced women fighting a losing battle in Idlib’s courts
  2. The Shifting Sands of Divorce and Polygamy, Inside Syria and Abroad
  3. Polygamy Inside Syria... Divorce Outside
  4. After divorce: Women not always stand on same side

Propaganda distorts the truth and prolongs the war..

Syria needs free media.. We need your support to stay independent..

Support Enab Baladi..

$1 a month makes a difference..

Click here to support