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Divorce in Iran & Women in the Arab World

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Many people hold a rather bleak view of girls’ and women’s lives in the Middle East and Muslim world; constrictive stereotypes and judgments about social practices create a one dimensional depiction of women that doesn’t reflect their true depth and variety

Some common refrains might refer to the freedom, or lack thereof, of dress; to the burdensome female role of wife and mother in the household; or even to the right to drive. However, like any place in the world, there is a spectrum of varied lived experiences, due to such factors as class, social customs, geographical location, family traditions, exposure to other cultures through trade, and so on.

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Local media outlets and blogs have been abuzz for months about lavish parties, complete with sarcastic invitations and humorous cakes, for couples splitting up. The phenomenon has become so widespread in Tehran and other large cities that one prominent cleric said couples who throw these parties are “satanic”.Still, the divorce parties are a sign of an undeniable trend: divorce in Iran is soaring. Since 2006, the rate of divorce has increased more than one a half times to the point where around 20 percent of marriages now end in divorce

In the first two months of this Iranian calendar year (late March to late May) alone, more than 21,000 divorce cases were logged, according to official statistics. The rise in the number of couples choosing to split up has angered conservatives in Iran who see the increase in divorce as an affront to the values of the Islamic Republic. Last month, Mustafa Pour Mohammadi, the current justice minister who is also a cleric, said that having 14 million divorce cases within the judiciary is “not befitting of an Islamic system,” according to the Iranian Students News Agency. Some of the causes for divorce in Iran, like many other countries, include economic problems, adultery, drug addiction or physical abuse. But the increase in the divorce rate points to a more fundamental shift in Iranian society, experts say.

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The family adopts any progress or failure made by any person. Some of the aspects of Arab families are interdependence, commitment and emotional attachment (Barakat par 2). The reason why Arab families have so many children is that they view children as extensions of family influence, a sign of success and an additional source of labor (Barakat par 2). The monetary entity created in an Arab family encourages them to get many kids for continuity and labor. On the other hand, American families have an inclination to have few or no children. This is mainly associated with economic reasons. Most families in America consider children an extra expense as they involve themselves in servicing mortgages and saving for retirement. A family is an important social institution in the society. The role played by a family is incomparable to the roles played by other institutions although disregarding them is unethical. Marriage is sacred and a very demanding venture that requires good understanding and positively influenced decisions. Regardless of someone’s cultural beliefs, it is important to ensure that two people who decide to get married have the trust and love for each other. Marriage should not be based on financial gain, peer pressure or solution basis. Polygamy is tolerable in the society because it offers an alternative to divorce, which is normally an expensive and traumatizing experience.

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In the final analysis, the legal status of women in the Middle East is currently unstable and problematic. It is clear that whatever progress was made in the area of women's rights is not irreversible

The previous situation, where a Westernized political elite imposed legal reforms on societies that were still largely very traditional, may now be reversed. In the wake of the Iranian example, some Middle Eastern governments are seeking to reassign an inferior legal status to women at a time when an ever-growing segment of their societies has been influenced by the women's liberation movement in the West. Under these circumstances it seems certain that the legal status of women in the Middle East will remain a hotly contested issue.

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Badawi, Gamal. Polygamy in Islamic Law. 2005. Web.

Barakat, Haim. Marriage and Divorce Patterns. 1993. Web.

Barakat, Haim. The Basic Characteristics of the Arab Family. 1993. Web.

Rearden, Jason. 19 Things You Should Do Before You Get Married. Thought Catalog. 2012. Web.

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