Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Topic of Children Abandoned by their Omani fathers?: Marriage Bandits in the GCC

I would like to write this post to inform Muslim and non-Muslims living in Oman and elsewhere about a recent hot topic: Islamic marriage banditry and its effects on the children of such unions, and then I would like to take the time to ponder on the context of such a subject as it is apparent in Oman. It will be a longer post than usual, and I apologize in advance for that, but I want to say everything I feel on the subject. I feel informed enough to speak about this as I have had first-hand, second-hand, and third-hand experience of marriage banditry.

For the people who know me, they know that as a convert living in Canada, I knew the Saudi set. I think this is pretty normal for converts. We either end up with a Pakistani set, or Shams set, or Saudi/GCC set depending on our own cultural likes initially when first entertaining visiting Mosques ect... Well anyways, alot of my good friends have succumbed to marriage banditry over the years, or at least friends of my friends. Especially those who married Saudis, Egyptians, and Kuwaitis. So much so, that there are some actual websites dedicated to expanding peoples' knowledge on the the issue of marrying a Saudi/GCC student while they are abroad studying in Western countries:
1.) http://saudichildrenleftbehind.com/
2.) http://kuwaitichildrenleftbehind.wordpress.com/
3.) http://qatarichildrenleftbehind.wordpress.com/

4.) http://taraummomar.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/interview-with-jennifer-of-saudi-children-left-behind/
5.) http://americanbedu.com/2012/04/26/saudi-arabia-children-abandoned-by-a-saudi-father/

Now I know alot of good Saudis. They usually were married to Saudis though, or met their wives in Saudi Arabia [very small minority] or actually applied for permission to marry their wife under Saudi law before having an Islamic marriage or entering into a relationship. These dudes are unfortunately, a minority when it comes to Qatari, Kuwaiti, Emirati, and Saudi [we can say even Egyptian/Moroccoan/Alegerian/Lebanese/Arab-in-general-dudes and others because I know alot of tragic stories] students travelling abroad and marrying Western women.

It is almost understandable, how guys limited with contact with women, will go mad and bed-hop first chance they get to, especially from mid-teens to 20s. While I find this deplorable as a Muslim, I find it understandable. Not everyone is as religious as me. What I don't undrestand though, are the marriage bandits.

What is marriage banditry you might wonder, and how can one protect one's self? Well, alot of scrutiny has recently been placed on the marriage bandits [see this very awesome post by an Islamic Imam/Sheikh who actually seems to care what is happening to Muslim women: http://thesalafifeminist.blogspot.com/2012/10/marriage-bandits.html]. Marriage banditry is where a cowardly loser from a so-called Muslim country decides to pray on poor family-less convert {or even born Muslim girls without family} girls by pretending to provide Islamic marriage and all the rights that is supposed to entail. They may also prey on non-Muslim girls by marrying them and then abadoning them as soon as they get pregnent.

This is horrible, mainly because these men are abandoning their own children, denying their children their own Islamic rights as required under Islamic law, and generally giving a horrible picture of Islam to non-muslim people and an awful image of Arab/GCC men to women, muslim or otherwise.
Western (especially the Muslim ones in my experience) women are pretty strong, they usually make it through the ordeal of marrying and divorcing a marriage bandit, and even remarry someone better and live happily ever after in some cases, with the sore lessons learnt from marrying these losers. Usually it is the children who help get their mother through. But it it is scarring on the children and can make it difficult on them financially, emotionally, (sometimes physically if they don't know their medical histories) and spiritually.

"And the governments of GCC students engaged in marriage banditry in general aren't stepping in to help. In fact, often they are aiding marriage banditry to thrive, by creating a culture of blamelessness for young men...Usually placing blame on the Western women, trying to say the woman was indeed immoral ect... not an Islamic marriage, without even considering the context of each individual case." -OPNO 

Married under Islamic law but abandoned by a Saudi father? Try your best to contact the Saudi government to do something about, good fat chance on that. Kuwait, Qatar... even some small cases in Bahrain, no big improvement on this front neither, even if a woman is able to present all the Islamic evidences required legally by these governments such as the marriage contract, or witnesses, and proof of abuse of the marriage. [These things can also be very hard for some women to provide as the husband kept the marriage contract, his friends were witnesses to the marriage, and he kept her isolated so that proof of abuse of her rights in the marriage would not be witnessed].

Marriage bandits suck. I hate them. Dead-beat dads are universial but the governments who are accepting this behaviour as boys-will-be-boys clearly happen to be GCC governments.

In fact, I suppose I do understand the marriage bandits enough to label them  into three categories within my experience.They are:

a. either so much of a loser they can't manage to get a woman the way that Saudi playboys in general do and don't have enough money to pay for sex via prostitutes like their richer counterparts so have to resort to pretending to be such a religious and god-fearing fellow to act like they want marriage and all that entails, and usually begin by spouting off how they never wanted to marry a Saudi/Emirati/Qatari/Kuwait woman and want to marry someone who thinks for herself {and yet later whose thoughts he will try to control} 
b. are an even bigger loser and think marriage and sex means no responsibilities
[This dude comes from ALL nations and sucks just as much whatever nation or religion]
c. are a Saudi playboy [any GCC playboy may apply here but the term started with Saudi student man-whores] who found the one girl he couldn't charm his way into her pants and so had to offer up the only other available bait: marriage and long-term committment, even if he actually had no intention to ever stay that far along after graduation or ever tell his parents {mainly his mother} about her or any other consequent children
[This type may actually fall in love and change, but that is only like the point .00000001 percentile. Don't base your life decisions on him, is all I can say, or you'll end up with more regrets {him too generally, and the woman he goes back home to marry when his Mama tells him to} than women who marry the other two categories of marriage bandits because you were and always are the type of girl who knows she deservs the ideal and the marriage bandit who preys on you knows that as well.]

One of my bestfriends is in the process of divorcing category a. of the above. The divorce itself is next to impossible. Alhamdulilah the Omani government is stepping in, via the religious ministry, and saying they can finally give her some closure and let her move on with her life, despite the fact that the Saudi government, Egyptian government, and the religious community in her own Western country, have done nothing at all to help.

Being that more Omani students now then ever are going abroad, I have to wonder at the context of Oman. How many women and children are out there who have been abadoned by an Omani father? Are there any?
Honestly, I haven't heard of any cases but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I have heard of housemaids that were charmed by an Omani man in the house they worked for, and were his girlfriend,  and got a baby, and got sent away, and then came back to Oman for a paternity test to win some rights for their child {minimal rights if one was not married under Islamic law as recognized by the Omani givernment}. But as to girls married and then abandoned I was wondering if my any readers knew of any cases?

If one googles the subject, many hits from Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, and Emirates will come up. Oman and Bahrain, not so much. If this is an accurate representation of the case, then what is it about Omani culture that makes them less likely to succumb to the temptations won by engaging in marriage banditry? A sense of honour, a sense of responsiblity, more respect for women, better Islamic practices? Or is it, that if an Omani guy IS a cad, he does not abuse the concept of Islamic marriage, he merely abuses the woman within the marriage? What is it?:

I know many girls who've had their hearts broken by Omani guys, but the guys were always upfront: we will never marry, my family can never ever know... So in that case, I just think, bad Muslims, not deplorable, awful, despicable human beings. And the guys who mess around and get a girl pregnent, half of them marry the girl and man and woman live miserably together here in Oman because such a union was not based on anything the other actually valued, or the woman was abandoned, but I can't blame the guy so much as he was honest enough to say, I won't marry you and am not a good guy. With such a warning, a woman can only blame herself, and I say this first to myself before I say it to anyone else.

When it comes to the Omani government, what are they doing to put up a good fight on the front of marriage banditry?:

As far as I know, not very much. If there are any measures taken legally to discourage young men from abusing the constituon of marriage while overseas, please, dear readers inform me, besides the absolutely useless marriage laws trying to forbid Omanis from marrying non-Omanis?

On the event of a marriage: The Omani Government will offer to help women divorce their Omani husbands who are losers but this usually means sacrificing alot of rights to one's children. One cannot have custody if they remarry ect... Although if one DOES have proof of marriage in the form of the marriage certificate {aqed nikah} and/or the required witnesses then one's child's right to Omani citizenship and inheritance are assured, unlike in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait [to the extent of my knowledge].
The woman also is free to live in Oman and is not forced to leave the country but she must support herself because financial aid for divorced women in Oman is not enough to live on or provide for children.  Like in the case of this British Muslim woman who divorced an Omani man from Salalah{http://sweetnessofsalalah.blogspot.com/}.

So in the case of being stuck in this situation, most women will choose to forgoe their child's right to inheritance or trying to get Omani citizenship until the child is at least considered an adult under Omani law, and it is a long process of being in and out of the courts for usually a period of 6 months if the court is particularily inept. Most women will choose to remarry, and want to maintain custody.

As far women who married under the laws of their own countries, not Islamic law, the Omani government, according to its own laws, does not have to make any provision for these women, that is their own government's responsibilities, and not the father's or Oman's. I am ok with this, while not loving it. I don't think it is fair, but it is just, and justice is seldom fair. Citizenship and inheritance will never be accorded but paternity may be marked on the birth certificate.

Women who were not married at all, but with children, same as the above, although if they can prove paternity they may get their own countries' to list the loser guy's name as the father without his signature and can sometimes get the man to pay a fine through the ROP. The woman may also face charges though, for having sex outside of marriage, so I don't recommend the action of pursuing monetary punishment on an ex this way if one was not married under any laws. It won't be respected here most likely.

I usually don't like Emirates but there is something their government has done: they are offering children of Emirati losers who made babies and then abandoned them a chance to apply for all their rights as an Emirati as far as citizenship, education, inheritence from the father ect... and for their non-Emirati mothers to live in UAE as residents. The current aim of this initiative is to make the Emirati loser responsible for his actions on foreign turf---he can't just run home to Mama and pretend he's an angel.
While some may argue this is not Islamic, the man should not have to pay for a child whose mother he never agreed to marry, I say this, if you want it Islamic, ok, but then I want to see this man PUBLICALLY shamed and lashed 100 times first, and then I will agree with you, which is according to Islamic law 100%. But since governments are not holding men Islamically accountable for their actions these days, what with public shaming and whippings not the norm beyond maybe KSA where they only seem to do these things to women, I think the action taken by the Emirati government is a step in the right direction of fighting the marriage bandits.

What do my readers think? What do you know of the case in Oman?

17 comments:

dohadude said...

Hey there,


living in Qatar and being aware of the problem you describe, I too wonder, why Oman (Or Omanis) seems to be different from the other GCC Countries. I just wrote an article about what Omani people are famous for. Maybe you can get some clues from my thoughts and reflection.

http://dohadude.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/famous-omani-people/

I read your whole article and hope, that the local governments of the region wake up and progress into the 21st century when it comes to people's rights in general and women's rights in particular.

Keep on writing! I really enjoyed reading and wish you the best of luck with your efforts.

Dohadude

ღUmmعℓαwiღ said...

Great post!!

As you know what happened with my own child & what i had to do to get full custody, rights of Saudi citizenship AND avoid his biological father (whom you have personally seen for urself is not fit to be a father LoL), there are happy endings :-)

<3

Wayward Daughter said...

Thank you for this post!!!!!
I am a 20 something westerner who was interested in Islam. I met an "a" type, who told me the same thing, that he didn't want an afghan girl, he wanted a girl who could think for herself but all he did was control me. His promise of marriage?? Never came.

Albie said...

Asalaamu alaykum,

I know of one case in which a Saudi man preyed on a Muslim Lebanese woman -- both were studying in the U.S. at the time -- so it's not just converts or Western women who are subject to marriage banditry.

Of Omanis, I have not heard of any cases, but they seem to be a different breed than other Gulf Muslims. Both of my Arabic professors were Omani, and they are just different than most Gulf students -- they didn't drink, party, have American girlfriends, etc. (things that many "Muslim" exchange students get into, in particular Saudis (just my experience)) and they always held very closely to their faith. I guess they are just cut from a different cloth?

Very nice post on this issue. I think it's important to raise awareness, and I really hate that Islam can be perceived negatively through these losers.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Doha Dude: I really, really loved your article, and commented there. I found it quite flattering to Omanis.

It drove me to ask my Omani husband the same questions you were asking. He siad the answer is quite simple, the majority of Omanis see all people as being equal as human beings, but for what they do with themselves and how they represent themselves. Saudi, you don't get this feeling. You feel there is a system for people, and unfortunately in Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar, you get this as well, due to the fact that people are trying to preserve their culture in the wrong way, by saying locals above everybody else in everything. In Oman, that doesn't really happen on a large scale. But the culture here is changing as well. Omanis are jealous slightly of the lifestyle they see in other GCC countries, and start to feel that maybe if they act as other GCCers do, they'll ge tthe same things. I find that thinking scary. [I have never been to Qatar***but I know alot fo Qataris through my work and they all seem great except to when it comes to housestaff: I eat meals with our housemaid. I never see that outside Oman, and some Omani families started to change in this as well).

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Umm 3alwai,

Alhamdulilah I am very happy for you and your son mashaAllah. I wish everyone can have a happy ending after heartbreak.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Wayward daughter:

I know it isn't just Arab or GCC gouys who suck in this shenanigan.
I know many stories about guys from India/Pakistan/Afghanistan doing the same.

At least we know, they when it comes to Islam, they don't represent:)

It can be flattering at first, to have some guy be like, I've searched the whole world for you, and no one in my country... blah blah blah.

But actions speak. And as women, we should let them. Words are just words. Omani women have a saying: "the tongue has no bone." That means, unless there is some action behind words, a man is of no consequence to be considered.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Albie,

Wa alaykom e salaam! :D Oh yeah, I know of so many cases! Especially with Saudis preying on poorer born-Muslim girls from Morocco, Egypt, and the Shams, and as I mentioned, in the Western context, any Muslim woman without a family is what they consider perfect prey.

I noticed the same with Omani students, but the difference could be that Omani guys who want to be man-whores and drink can do that here in Oman, in a very limited nightclub set ect... or secret girlfriends. They usually aren't the kind who set out with the goal of getting a good education and good job so they afford the wife and family they idealize ect...

My husband says it is also, Omani guys will see any woman who is moral and modest or has a good quality as being that, no matter she is African, Indian, Philipino, or caucasion. They might not ask to marry her even if they want to because they know his Omani family will ruin the girl's life or something. This is Omani guys outside the country. Inside the country, they see it differently, as western expats and others should understand their culture and see how Omani women act. If they want to get treated like Omani women they have to act like Omani women or the consequences aren't their fault. That's what I've seen.

Um3azzan said...

Doha Dude, I read your amazing post and I can't say anything except thank you. I really hope we stick to these values and not change.

Omani Princess, a very ineteresting post!! I am glad that most see that Omani guys are different and I think I agree with the reasons your husband gave. A point we could add too, is that most guys who get a scholarship to study abroad are guys who are serious in their education. The criteria to get a scholarship is not an easy one so maybe thats why too?
Playboys either come from very bad enviroments who will not get the chance to go abroad or rich players who will go abroad but they are upfront and clear they want to play around.
But I like to stick to saying that we Omanis are unique :)

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Um3azzan: I totally agree. The playboys that I've seen as far as Omani guys are all in-country being they can't afford to go abroad or didn't care enough about their education to get a scholarship ect... They just cruise down the roads in their cars and honk at girls. Real game;)

The other type, abroad, is just... upfront. I guess that's what Western womenare asking GCC guys to be. Be upfront. Don't marry a girl and then leave. Duh. :)

Boxie said...

Ah the A type needs to go pray some raka in the mosque. If that does not work who knows what will. But I would not mind having 5 min with a black sharpie while a type A is asleep.

Crazy in Kuwait said...

Hala from Kuwait! Great article, the more we write about it the more it will spread and hopefully future children will be spared the confusion of their heritage. I write from experience as well and I can tell you the wanting of an absent father never ends even into adulthood. I've got Qatar and Kuwait covered so you can cover Oman although as many have said it seems Omani are different from the typical GCC men. I almost married an Omani and upon visiting the country I saw how down to earth and humble they are compared to the arrogant ones from other GCC countries. They don't mind working in the hotels, I was surprised when I opened the door and the guy who took my bags was Omani. They lead the GCC with their citizens taking control of their country and doing all types of work. Is there a pricate email for your blog?

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Boxie: You can have the sharpie, I'd like a blunt of sharp object:(

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Crazy in Kuwait: Not all Omanis are like that but alhamdulilah the majority in my experience have been, and yes, we do! : opnoprincess@hotmail.com

Boxie said...

A Sharpie can do more damage depending on what I write it draw >;).

Anonymous said...

This should be a wakeup call to forigners (esp women) looking for love here

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