Social Issues: Family in Saudi Arabia

Family is the fundamental unit in any society where most society members learn their behavior. However, the family has never had the same interpretations in every community. This is due to the different cultural beliefs that every society has. As a result, behavior that is considered normal in one society may not necessarily be normal in another society. Marriage, for example, has different interpretations in different countries.

Family is given a lot of importance in Islamic society, especially Saudi Arabia. Women, whether educated or not, are more respected when they are married. Consequently, women strive to get married and can even choose to be second wives, particularly when they are divorced. As a result, polygamy is normal. Men can marry more than one wife, and that will in no way be contravening any societal or governmental laws.

Nevertheless, a husband is expected to fully provide for all his wives without partiality. This is contrary to the western culture where it is a common belief that polygamy compromises the quality of a family.

According to western culture, every man is expected to marry one wife only for him to maximally concentrate well on family issues. As a result, polygamy is almost unheard of in this part of the world. No woman will allow her husband to get a second wife whatsoever. That will be taken to be a betrayal of the first wife’s love. There are no women who will be willing to be taken in as the second wives either, leave alone the third one.

Notably, even Saudi first wives where polygamy is rampant do not find it amusing when their husbands get second wives. This is because they know that second wives will bring loose ends in the family.

Unfortunately, there is little they can do if they have any option at all. If they want, they can get divorced. But the Islamic laws favor men to take custody of children in case of divorce, unlike in the west where women take custody of children. In this regard, women are compelled to live in polygamous marriages.

It is ironical that while Saudi Arabia allows polygamy, they do not issue a permanent visa to more than one wife for foreign expatriates. This can be taken to imply that foreign expatriates are not allowed to be polygamous. How an Islamic country that still adheres to sharia law could come up with this regulation is hard to understand. Nevertheless, the other wives of an expatriate can be given a visitor’s visa.

On the other hand, Hinduism does not allow people to marry more than one wife. In this regard, people who profess the Hinduism religion in India are known to be majorly monogamous. A wife can move to court in case the husband takes a second wife.

This is closely related to the beliefs held in the western that an ideal family should have one wife and one husband. Nonetheless, it differs somehow because, in the west, a wife cannot sue her husband if he decides to get a second wife. However, there are men who convert to Islam and get married to more than one wife. Nevertheless, this is sometimes complicated, and people have to move out of India to achieve it.

Despite the differences in the way various cultural backgrounds define a family; recent years have seen a slight concurrence emerging. Every part of the world prefers monogamous marriages to polygamous ones. Even people who were in polygamous marriages would not like their daughters to get into polygamous marriages. However, marriage is losing popularity in the west compared to other parts of the world.

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