How do divorced women live in Dubai
Forced marriage, oppressed and fully veiled - that is the image that many in the West still see when they think of Arab women. In fact, there are still arranged marriages in the Arab world - but these too, if they are not happy, are resolved much faster than they were a few years ago.
Farah is 29 years old. She lives in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has a nine-year-old daughter - and is divorced. She wears her long black hair down, her fingers painted red. Confident and open to the next relationship - Farah has chosen freedom. The women in Abu Dhabi are quite modern, confidently insist on their rights - and also fight through the divorce, although it is much more difficult for them than for the men.
With Farah, for example, it was not a love marriage, the parents had arranged the marriage. She was a virgin before marriage, she had no idea about sex. Her parents hadn't enlightened her. "I was young and didn't know my body. I didn't really know myself." At 17, Farah was married. At 19 she was divorced.
In Egypt, for example, the most populous Arab country, 40 percent of marriages now end in the first five years. Fifty years ago it was only six percent in the same period - a development that even moves politicians: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi recently called for the hurdles to be raised for a divorce.
Such divorce rates are astounding - because they contradict clichés. Even in Islamic ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, 30 percent of marriages are now divorced. This is of course all the more important as many marriages are still arranged by the parents.
What happens when people start a life together who actually don't know each other - that's easy to imagine. Traditional gender images meet modern, enlightened ideas. But admitting to yourself that something has come together that doesn't go together is one thing. The other is how marriages are separated in Arab countries and what obstacles have to be overcome.
Read the background in Dunja Ramadan's great report "Muslim, young, divorced" SZ plus:
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