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Saudi’s lost women
Women abandoned as babies on Saudi’s streets cannot lay claim to a traceable lineage, and face social problems in the kingdom.
June 29, 2009 9:18 by Fatima Al-Saadi
The number of children without traceable lineages, who are often the outcome of illegitimate relationships, is on the rise in Saudi. They are abandoned on the streets or outside mosques and so, are taken to social care homes, where they are raised alongside orphans.
But these children, especially the girls, face several social problems; primarily with marriage.
Most men do not want to marry women without traceable lineages. Men with mental illnesses or criminal records who struggle to find a match often agree to marry them, but they then end up having troubled married lives.
“Ever since I came of an understanding age, I knew I was living in a shelter,” says 23-year-old Nura. “I was told I was found inside a box in the street. I was raised inside a shelter to help me become dignified and confident. I even earned a university degree and I always dreamed of a good husband just like other girls,” she adds.
A few years ago, a man asked for her hand in marriage, and Nura happily agreed. However, things took a turn for the worse.
“I discovered after marriage that my husband was mentally ill. Before marrying me, he proposed to several girls, but their families rejected him,” Nura says. She says her husband used to beat her up and get mad at her for no reason. “I even miscarried. In fact, I didn’t want to bring a child into a life of suffering.”
Nura secured a divorce but did not return to the shelter. She begged on the streets for a short while until she met a woman who asked Nura to marry her brother.
“I thought my suffering was finally over. Instead, they treated me like a maid. My husband would make fun of me saying I was a nobody. He would constantly tell me that he wasn’t proud of me as a wife, as I was the outcome of an illegitimate relationship,” she says.
After a two-year marriage, Nura was divorced with a child. She attempted to return to the social home, but was refused as she had lived outside for such a long time. “I want the government to help us as we have no one to turn to. The government should provide us with homes and monthly stipends to help support ourselves,” she says.
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