It's a well-documented fact that Saudi Arabia still treats its women as rebellious teenagers who need to be kept in line.
However, despite the Gulf kingdom constantly denying women basic privileges and rights (such as driving cars and freedom of movement), the number of employed Saudi women has increased by 48% since 2010, according to a 2015 Bloomberg report that cited data from the Saudi Arabia’s Central Department of Statistics and Information.
Predictably, the Saudi government is not taking the uptick in female employment very well. The General Authority of Statistics in the country recently released figures indicating that women who do not work are less likely to get a divorce. The number of working women who got a divorce, 74895, was almost five times that of women who do not work and got a divorce, i.e. 14856.
“The rising divorce rate among female employees compared with non-working women is a serious indicator and a call to consider seriously the situation,” Abdah Al Asmari, an expert, remarked, as quoted by Saudi daily Al Riyadh.
And while he added “the recklessness and naivety of some husbands” could be a contributing factor, he put the major blame on wives by saying, “There is a deep need for working women not to neglect their family responsibilities and to balance their commitments to work and to the family.”
After the announcement, men's rights activists came scuttling out of the woodworks. One of them started a poll on Twitter, asking people just why working women got more divorces.
صحيفة الرياض:— د. محمد #العريفي (@MohamadAlarefe) December 21, 2016
السعوديات الموظفات أكثر طلاقاً من العاطلات
الإحصاء: 72 ألف زوجة طلقت بسبب عملها عام1437هـ
ما السبب في ظنك ؟
“TRANSLATION: POLL: 72,000 wives divorced because of their work in 1437. What is the reason? She’s too busy for her husband (35%) She feels she is no longer in need of a husband (65%).”
Fortunately, the absurd debate was soon taken over by rational Saudi women who discredited the implied link between women employment and divorce, using an Arabic hashtag that translates to "work is no reason for divorce."
عزيزتي المرأة— ❤️ ألين❤️ Aleen❤️ (@newname1100) December 21, 2016
اذا كان الطلاق مرعب ومخيف فإعلمي ان البطاله وعدم الاستقلال مادياً أشد رعباً
وظيفتك ثم وظيفتك ثم وظيفتك👌#الوظيفه_ليست_سبب_طلاق
“TRANSLATION: My dear women, if divorce is scary, then know being unemployed and being dependent is even more scary. Your job, then your job, then your job.
#الوظيفه_ليست_سبب_طلاق الوظيفة توفر لك استقلالك المادي حتى لو زوجك انسان رائع هل تضمني المستقبل ، ليش تعيشي محتاجة للناس لو صارله شيء— آية Ayah (@ayloulbk) December 21, 2016
“TRANSLATION: A job offers you financial independence. Even if your husband is a wonderful man, can you guarantee the future? Why continue to be dependent?”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters,Faisal Al Nasser