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On Plight Of Divorced Muslim Women

Last week, we did a lament on the plight of pensioners. Having seen that, someone who introduced herself as Mairo Mamman (queenaminazazzau@gmail.com) emailed me another lament titled “MANUAL FOR NEWLY DIVORCED WOMEN IN NORTHERN NIGERIA”. Though the writer does not say whether she too is a victim, and does not discuss the sociology leading to the divorce and the immediate psychological consequences of it, she offers several pieces of advice to her sisters (who, in this Manual, are the socially mobile and educated ones – the not-so-educated suffer much worse!)

For reminders, readers may recall that several years ago when I was Director General of Kano State’s Societal Reorientation Programme (A Daidata Sahu), I had commissioned a research on this singular act of wickedness called divorce, the findings of which I had published on this page back in 2008 under the title “EIGHTY PERCENT OF OUR MARRIAGES UNSTABLE -RESEARCH”. At that time, we had suggested that Northern Muslim marriages, especially among the Hausa-Fulani, must be revolutionized with contracts and registers and penalties – it never happened. So, as we lamented pensioners last week, let us lament divorced Muslim women today. Here it is:

Divorce is one of the most disliked legal actions in Islam. I understand that it was only provided as a way out of impossible situations. My concern is to do with the challenges that Muslim women divorcees face in Northern Nigeria.  I am a Muslim woman and I am a witness to how divorced women are mistreated on both secular and religious grounds. Now, based on a little research of divorced women in Abuja, I made some findings and I thought it might help to share their experiences so that you, my sister, who is either divorced or widowed, could learn from the experiences of others.

One: Accept that you are now vulnerable. Aisha told me that she kept her marital status hidden from her colleagues for the longest time possible because she was afraid that if she revealed it, she would have to deal with all sorts of unwanted proposals. Unfortunately, a colleague who knew her ex-husband found out and let the cat out of the bag. It was a disaster for her as those men who would bow to greet her started talking to her with and air of “I know what’s up and I’m a potential suitor”. So my dear sister, prepare to fight your battles. Just remember that when you do, you are “bitchy”, “mouthy”, etc. And then it would go back to the ‘fact’ that the ex-husband could not deal with such behavior that was why he had to leave you.

Two: Beware of gold diggers. So you have a stable job and a reasonable income. Or you own a business that makes you appear to have more than you really need. Don’t worry, there are many men out there scoping you and trying to help you by getting married to you and taking over your finances. Who said a woman should be in control of her finances? Salamatu, an architect, had been working for eight years before she met Sadiq, a public servant. It was a whirlwind romance, for him, “love at first sight”. He was divorced with no kids and she was well in her 30’s. They seemed compatible until they got married. He insisted that she quit her job, even wrote a letter of resignation and asked her to sign. Because she was working in her uncle’s architectural firm, it was an open-ended leave of absence she got. He borrowed her ATM cards one day and “lost” them. On the grounds that he had purchased a new car from her from America, he sold off the one she had, the one she had bought for herself. The car from America never came. Sadiq stopped paying rent until she eventually realized he married her for what she had, the family name she bore and the doors she opened for him.

Three: Your vulnerability will be capitalized on. A single mother of three, Zeezy had been managing herself and her life for years. A civil servant and a hard working woman, she sold clothes and shoes on the side as her salary was not sufficient to sustain the family. The father of the children left the responsibility of fending for them to her. There was an issue at her workplace and her appointment was terminated. She called the man that at the time supposedly wanted to marry her in tears and his response was “now that you don’t have a choice, you must agree to have me even if it’s in sin”. It was the last time she picked his call.

Four: You will carry the infamous ‘mark’ of the lady who lives “on her own”. In Hausa, when a woman is described as “mai zaman kanta”, it means that she has grown wings and is too gutsy. How can a woman live on her own? She must be doing bad things. So you have two choices, damn the consequences and do what makes you happy as long as you live according to the tenets of your religion, or lie. Lie and say that you live with your mother, father, uncle or anyone. That way, there won’t be the negative vibe. I met a single lady who lives on her own that told me anytime she was expecting a male visitor, she would go to a family friend’s house and pretend she lived there. It worked for her. Alternatively, find an older relative to live in the house as an antidote to that negative vibe.

Five: Understand that your new status means different things to many people. From your family to your friends to your colleagues, everyone handles your status in a unique way. Now the problem may be how you deal with how they handle it. Some family members begin to conveniently forget to send you the ashoebi and ‘you should not complain’ because then you will confirming it’s your nagging that got you to this status in the first place. Some friends begin to forget to return your missed calls. You know how busy married women are – children, home, almighty husband, you just wouldn’t understand how onerous a task it is. Besides, now you are a potential threat!

Binta told me she lost her best friend when the latter’s husband, pretending to visit the former’s colleague, kept visiting her office. She later found out he had lied to many that he had proposed to her. Someone spilled and ‘Best Friend’ came to the office and caused a huge scene; security guards had to take her out. She would hear nothing of Binta’s explanations. End of friendship.

Six: Be prepared for the pressure to remarry and be careful with the quality of proposals you get. Sure every woman has suitors. It is interesting to see that certain women usually attract certain types of men. Conversations with all sorts of people are usually punctuated by a sigh and then “you should get married fa”. When it occurs and recurs you begin to wonder if there is something wrong with you. I am telling you, nothing is wrong with you. Marriage is desired but not mandatory and when it comes, it has come. When you are eventually ready to remarry, ensure that you are doing it for the right reasons, and pray that he is too!
Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/columns/on-the-plight-of-divorced-muslim-women/183868.html#4LeqxJeeyholAtq0.99

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