The Saudi man and paternity leave

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Okaz newspaper

LATELY an unfair prejudice against Saudi society it noticed on social media. Women were the lucky number in this social and psychological bullying and this may explain the recent radical feminine wave, which made me believe that the Saudi women’s movement this year was the most visible and the most effective ever.

Aside from the women who faced the media bullying in many of the sarcastic events, there was this poor Saudi man who received his share of neglect. I will dedicate the rest of this article to talk about this poor man.

We have to admit here that the Saudi man is considered one of the most generous and giving, compared to the rest of the men in this world. He brings the interests of his family before everything including himself.

In the past decade, we have started seeing a new shape of the Saudi man with a new mindset that tends to share the daily aspects of life with his family. Maybe because of the difficult nature of life in the past the Saudi man had to show strictness in his character and behavior.

This may explain why many families tend to get their children married to relatives. The main goal of such a decision is to preserve the family’s economic resources that will ensure a secure living for the new couples.

Now marriage relationships have changed and preserving the tribal character is not a main priority anymore as society has now become more open.

Let us now focus on what this poor Saudi man was influenced by in his childhood. Some of the ideas that were implanted in his mind were “Be a man and don’t behave like a woman”, “You can have four wives according to the Shariah,” and “You can easily replace one of your wives with a new one.”

Unless he was able to prove himself to be a man through violent means, he would become the object of ridicule in the neighborhood.

We hear about cases of murder and the demand of blood money here and there. Many of these men used to be part of large groups that are either peaceful or dangerously violent. What are the reasons for this? Is it because of the weaknesses of our social institutions that could not identify such behavior and provide solutions?

The dilemma starts when the Saudi man wants to get married. He finds himself in front of a long list of demands and things to do. In reality, the Saudi man does not recognize his role right away. All what he understands is that he is the main source of income for his family.

The life then will continue in the typical manner. He remains outside the home earning a living and she is left to raise her children alone. Children will grow up with the father acting as a central bank providing for his family.

Here I want to ask if we demanded from the Ministry of Civil Service to grant this father a paternity leave when his wife delivers a baby, whether the ministry will accept it or not. We have heard that the Shoura Council presented such a proposal but we don’t know what happened then.

Is the paternity leave going to convince people that fathers have the right to share the first month of the life of his newborn with his wife?

In England, only 10 percent of fathers applied for this leave when it was granted by the system as a legitimate right. This angered right groups that care for the way of life of families by helping to integrate fathers with their children.

Many of the kindergartens in England began employing men to care for the children who include three-month to three-year olds. I remember my son Khaled was very happy with his male teacher Jo, who played with him in the garden, fed him and cared for him just like his nanny did. The goal was for children to get used to men around them and to eliminate any psychological barriers between them and their fathers.

I stress here that Saudi men suffered a lot from ill thoughts and mistrust. They were accused of things that are not logical. There are bad men as well as good men who deserve appreciation. We should not let them suffer the burden of accumulated social problems that is being cured now. Imagine how families will be very happy and more stable when fathers are granted paternity leave as a right.


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