Monday, March 31, 2008

Divorce, Sahrawi-style

Western Sahara's cultural distinctiveness from Morocco is further proved in this 2004 BBC article about the differences between divorce in Western Sahara and Morocco. The gist is that getting divorced in Western Sahara isn't that sad and actually kind of fun, whereas in Morocco no one got divorced until the king said women could leave their husbands if they were beaten (seriously).

Did you realize that until February 2004 Moroccan women were required by law to obey their husbands? That hardly mattered for Sahrawis living under the occupation, though, because they've known domestic violence sucks for a while:
"For us, if a man beats his wife, he is no longer a man, he is a dog," said Salka, a 45-year-old Saharawi woman, recently divorced for the second time.

In the Western Sahara, if a man beats his wife the minimum he must do to ask her forgiveness is hold a second wedding, with all the gifts of camels and jewellery that entails.
That makes the $4 million Kobe Bryant apology ring look like getting off easy. If a woman does get divorced, though, she doesn't argue over alimony or join eHarmony--she throws a party until she gets married again:
"The party is meant to pay homage to the divorced woman, so that she doesn't feel weak or ashamed.

"We dress up, we get a band to play, and the men who fancy the divorced women bring her presents, like a camel, perfume, or money. It can last for three days, or as long as it takes for the woman to accept another offer," says Fatou.
There's even more in the article about how Sahrawi society embraces divorced women and keeps them from feeling outcast. Apparently Sahrawi men want divorced women because they're more "experienced." Those parties where everyone gets to watch the courting sound great. Attending a Sahrawi divorce party is now on my list of things to do before I die.

Via Justin Knapp, friend of oppressed peoples and bloggers without material everywhere.


  1. Well, God forbid there be more divorce parties, but I think I see what you're saying here...

  2. Anonymous9:28 AM

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  3. Heh, good point Justin. I guess what I mean is if it's going to happen, and if the party's going to as wild as that article suggests, I want to be there.

  4. Will,
    You just missed one in Virginia.
    What a pity...I didn't know you'd be interested.

  5. Are you serious? They can't possibly be as wild in Virginia, Khatry.