We have talk radio, sports radio, country radio and pirate radio, but have you tuned in to Divorce Radio? An Egyptian woman, Mahasen Saber, divorced her husband and went from respectable wife to social pariah. The traumatic aftermath of her three year divorce, after the end of her three year marriage, caused her to consider how she might impact others like her who were treated as outcasts. Divorce Radio was born.
Broadcast on the internet from Egypt, Divorce Radio has thousands of listeners from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and even North America. Ms. Saber exhibited her business savvy in starting the station after learning that Egypt has the highest divorce rates in the Arab world with 40% of marriages ending in divorce. It has been reported that there is a divorce in Egypt every six minutes.
The increase in divorce in this country of 80 million people can be attributed to a change in the divorce law in 2000. Women did not share independent rights of divorce with their husbands, who could simply divorce their wives by repeating “I want a divorce” three times, until khula divorce was established. This process allows an Egyptian woman to divorce her husband without the need for establishing any grounds for divorce.
This has been seen as a great victory for women, however, the downside is that she must leave with nothing, receive no support, and repay her spouse the dowry he gave her when they married. Egypt was the second country in the middle east to give women the right to divorce, the first was Tunisia.
Programs on Divorce Radio include self-help shows hosted by counsellors that deal with all aspects of divorce including self-esteem training, financial and employment advice, and children’s issues There is also a show with a male host who speaks frankly about the male side of divorce.
The law with respect to custody of children in Egypt is premised on the “tender years doctrine”, which was popular in North America in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. This legal maxim embraces the notion that young children should be raised by their mother. In Egypt children up to the age of 15 are generally placed in their mother’s custody. Visitation of children by their fathers is within the sole discretion of mothers.
Women in Egypt have achieved a milestone in their struggle for equality, but there is still much to be done. As Egyptian women take their place in the halls of academia and business, the movement for women’s rights will only grow stronger.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang