Marriage warning

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RECENTLY I read a piece of news about Saudi Embassy in Indonesia issuing a warning to Saudis, who have already obtained a marriage permit, from dealing with marriage agents. The embassy also warned them from signing any paper that could make them accountable in the court of law.

At the same time, they advised anyone traveling to that country for marriage to consult the embassy first. The memo also highlighted other warnings like paying passport employees for certain jobs and living in some hotels in certain areas. The memo also urged the traveling citizens to monitor the official Twitter account and stay in contact with the Embassy.

The news left me a bit pessimistic after I had read about the marriages taking place abroad. This was due to the fact that there have been a high number of divorce cases and children left behind and neglected by their fathers, who marry, divorce and escape, sometimes even without the wife knowing that she was divorced. Not only that, but the father on returning home, erases any trail that could lead to him, including his phone number and address.

This news caught my eyes because, the moment I had read it, I could predict the fate of such marriages. There is even a name for such marriages, “Tourism Marriage.” And the fact that there are agents in the middle facilitating such marriages only shows that this is a profitable business. The only victims in this case is the poor woman who was seeking stability in marriage and hoping to build a future and the children, born in this union, who will never see their fathers again.

With exception of a minority, in my opinion of course, there are a good percentage of citizens who are in it for fun. They target poor families who are in need of money and stability. The families think of achieving this by marrying their daughter to a man from a rich country. Thinking that their problems are over forever, they, with this consent, add another major problem to their basket of woes — a divorced daughter and possibly a child to raise.

The simplest ruse, adopted by the prospective grooms, is the claim that marriage is expensive in Saudi Arabia and the dowry amount works as an obstacle for them to get married, which I think is a baseless claim. Most of the time they marry with the intent to divorce once their mission, in any country, is over. They claim that they do not want to commit sin and resort to marriage, not knowing that they are committing a bigger sin, by secretly intending to get divorced, leaving a wife and a child behind.

I will add here the only statistics available from Awasser, Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad, which I published in an opinion article a year ago. The stats revealed then that there are 8,230 Saudi children belonging to 2,358 families stranded in 32 countries in four continents around the world. The report added, as many as 28 families consisting of 60 members have been repatriated and are now living in the Kingdom as normal Saudi citizens.

These children are from marriages abroad, mostly by Saudi students on scholarships and from men on temporary missions abroad. The main five countries with the largest number of stranded Saudi children are: Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Bahrain, while the host countries with the least number of Saudi children are Romania, Ireland, China, Bangladesh and Ukraine.

Such people, who resort to such marriages and abandon their children abroad, put our reputation in the mud. If they do not know or understand the concept of marriage, they should not get married in the first place. I was hoping that the awareness against such marriages is high in Saudi Arabia and in countries where citizens go to get married in. Such families, even if they are poor, should distinguish between a real and fake marriage. Any marriage that is not authenticated by the Embassy or a government body cannot be proven, and the father in this case can easily deny the whole marriage.

It is pointless to try to educate such fathers about the gravity of their actions, nor am I going to lecture them on the consequences of their action of leaving children alone and destroying the lives of innocent women. I only say we need to go the extra mile to put the test of marriage to rest. It is time to hold them responsible if it is proved that they committed this act. If papers are produced to prove that the marriage has not taken place, then we can resort to DNA verifications. Once paternity is proved, such fathers should be brought to book and held responsible for leaving behind Saudi children.

I conclude here with the Prophet’s (PBUH) saying: “Children have three rights over their father: that he give them a good name, teach them how to read and write, and marry them off when they mature.”

And in another Hadith he said, “Love your children, and be kind and merciful to them. Fulfill your promises made to them since children consider their father to be the one who provides for their sustenance.”

The writer can be reached at mahmad@saudigazette.com.sa Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng


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