Sunday, January 20, 2008

Muslim countries have divorce by text message

A number of Muslim countries are dealing with the possible social consequences of allowing husbands to divorce their wives by simply sending text messages on cell phones saying "Inti talaq" -- "I divorce you." (The verb has a direct object.) In some cases it has to happen three times, which means that the wife could avoid divorce by not answering cell phone calls. Countries are struggling with how to apply Sixth Century religious law to 21st Century technology. Malaysia tried to ban divorce this way, and then allowed it with the sanction of religious authorities. Right now, there is a major legal case in Egypt.

The story is by Ellen Knickmeyer on p A01 of the Saturday, January 19, 2008, The Washington Post, "A New Text in Islamic Law: Egypt to Rule on Phone-Message Divorce," link here.

The issue seems to show a paradox: given the patriarchal society in many Muslim countries, it seems as though wives are being treated as chattel and that western ideas of marriage as a socially stabilizing institution may not really exist, which makes the religious homophobia even harder to explain.

1 comment:

Ann Marie said...

Wow, I can't believe that a man can divorce his wife by simply saying "I divorce you" three times. Let alone the fact that they have started to do it in text messages. We all say things we don't mean when we are angry or upset but this puts a whole new spin on it. I work for, and we have a video blogger names Sarah that is in the process of a seperation. I am amazed at her bravery to put everything out there for all to see and her strength. The thing is you see she and her husband still love each other a great deal. The problem is that she is white Episcopalian and he is Egyptian and after a 5 year marriage they decided their cultural differences were too much. It is an amazing story and so touching, hard for someone like me to comprehend.
Just my two cents.
Ann Marie