Saudi Arabia women say goodbye to social stigma by staging divorce parties
Perhaps bridal showers and engagement parties have become too passé in the turn of the century. These days, women in Saudi Arabia find themselves celebrating not marriage, but divorce.
The advent of divorce parties is believed to have come from the injustice a woman endures for the duration of her marriage; it serves as a resistance, and a seemingly better alternative, when compared side by side to a fate in the throes of self-pity. The woman, after suffering in the heavy hands of an abusive marriage or a crushing loveless cohabitation, finally finds reprieve and freedom in a divorce party.
The stigma towards divorced women in Saudi Arabia has, for the most part, been eradicated when the divorce rate rose marginally in 2017, according to a report by Arab News today, Jan. 30. While divorced women in the past were shamed and deemed unfit for another chance at love and marriage, these same women can now walk with confidence without worrying about how they are in the eyes of other people.
“I remember feeling confused at the time. My mom threw a big party with a DJ and all, and she invited all her friends and relatives,” Doaa Abdullah told the Arab News about her parents’ separation. “When it was time to cut the cake, I was happy to help her with it. She’d been trying to get a divorce for several years and felt the need to celebrate when it finally happened.”
Mohammed Adel, on the other hand, shared that when the court legally allowed her mother to leave her husband, his uncles and relatives picked her up from court to take her out.
“They did it to show her she wasn’t alone and that she had people around her who care for her deeply,” Adel said. “She had suffered a lot at the hands of my father and was treated poorly. When we got to the restaurant and she realized that was happening, she was speechless with joy, and seeing her happy made me happy too.”
Unlike Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love” whose divorce warranted a trip to Bali, India and Italy for much-needed soul searching and fresh pasta, women in Saudi Arabia need not do anything grand. As women’s rights in Saudi Arabia find itself slowly yet steadily inching towards the name of progress, the mere capability of a woman divorcee to celebrate her freedom can already be counted as a historical feat. Cody Cepeda/JB
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