I had a one-sided agrument with a bunch of law students at Sultan Qaboos University the other day about the Marriage Laws in Oman requiring permission to be achieved first before marriage between an Omani citizen and an expat can take place. I say one-sided, because they basically agreed with me and I was just venting. What is wrong with the process we asked ourselves: it is unfair regarding gender, it is unclear, the process is unknown and not transparent and this leads to corruption, and cases are not considered on a case to case basis regarding clear processes.
The human rights issues involved, you can have no idea. Women and men (Omani and expat) write me everyday, asking what they should do, where can they go, and so many horror stories, you wouldn't know. The Interior Ministry has only 4-5 good people that I actually encountered in my own quest for permission. Maybe the others who work there are embittered, because of countless stories of marriages that failed? I don't know. Like many laws, this one needs to be clearer, needs to have exceptions that are clear, and needs to be fair to both sexes. Omani women deserve the same rights after permission as Omani men.
Islam is clear about it. It is halal, considering the religion of the Omani's intended. Oman outlaws it though. Although, how many Al Said Omani princes and Princesses do we know who are from mixed families?
People tell me I shouldn't talk about this, regarding my own precarious position in this country, and the status of my passport application. But I am sure those Princes and Princesses would agree with me as well. She totally doesn't know I write this blog, but I had coffee with one such woman the other day, and she was all "mashaAllah" that my husband was from Oman, and from the village that he is from, even that kind of life isn't the easiest for most expats.
Who doesn't agree: small-minded people who don't believe Omanis should marry outside their family and tribe, that's who. People who have no idea, that nationality is more about contributing to a country, than about race and family. These people often claim to be religious but don't care what their religion says. These people break my heart, over and over again.
I still think there should be SOME law regarding giving legal status to a non-citizen. People shouldn't just be given passports who would then divorce their spouse ect... and look for someone better. Or be allowed to marry and then divorce, leaving the Omani govenrment with full financial responsibility for maitenance (a lot of poor Yemeni brides in case from the early 80s). Divorce laws regarding custody and inheritance should be signed and explained before any marriage takes place to stop legal disputes involving borders and countries in case of the worst. All this I do support. But saying "no" to Omanis who wish to marry who they love or the one person who actually does want to marry them when no one in their own country or family does? This is inhumane, unislamic, and not very Omani to me.
The legal students began to propose different studies they could do on this one subject. I know for instance, the Omani cultural center, and some anthropologists looking into studying this subject, the impact of the law and culture upon Omani marriages (to Omanis as well as expatriates) would be something worth pursuing and documenting. The one thing that stood in their way was documenting cases, especially since many marriage take place without permissions ect.. or are hard to track since people fear for being punished for the exception the Interior Ministry has made for them, as if it could be retracted somehow... Or they are saving their help and advice and "wasta" for someone they are close to in need, not just random strangers.
Would you be brave enough to contribute anonymously to such a study I wonder?