Egypt’s “First Husband’s Club” Takes Off

By Sumayyah Meehan

December 14, 2009

Egyptian men are up in arms over a recent spate of female-initiated divorces in the country, which have left many ex-husbands feeling vulnerable and unmanly. The Egyptian Organization for Divorced Men is the brainchild of Abdul Rahman Hamed, who just so happens to have been divorced by his own wife not long ago.

Citing the “tyranny” of women as the catalyst for his forming an organization to help beleaguered men find support and protect their rights, Hamed laments many Egyptian women today who have freed themselves from under the thumbs of their often domineering husbands. It’s no secret that the majority of Egyptian men have always ruled the roost while the wives did little more than lay the eggs. Now that the tables are turned, many Egyptian women have found a voice to put an end to a marriage that may not be living up to their expectations.

Up until almost 10 years ago, it was nearly impossible for an Egyptian wife to get a divorce from her husband. First, she had to prove that the reason was something major, like adultery or abuse, and second she had to provide her own evidence to back up her claims. A new divorce law that was passed in the year 2000, called Khol’a, did away with much of the governmental “red tape” that used to tie up divorce proceedings for years. The law has helped clear the path for women who initiate a quickie divorce, so long as she waves her right to financial support. Sometimes the divorce goes through so fast that the husband does not even know about it until the deed is done.

Hamed argues that the law is too general and that many Egyptian women are choosing divorce simply to spite their husbands or amuse their female friends. “The law of unconditional divorce has become a sword hanging over men’s heads. Men are the ones who now need organizations to fight for their rights,” he shared in a recent interview. According to Hamed, Egyptian women are divorcing their men at a rate of 1 every 12 minutes, however only 12,000 Egyptian men having been divorced since the law took effect despite the larger than life stats.

Unfortunately, there have not been any official studies as to why Egyptian women are so disgruntled and dissatisfied with their mates. Perhaps leaving the toilet seat up one too many times or forgetting to put the cap back on the tube of toothpaste are the sorts of things that cause a wife to go AWOL.

Regardless of the reason, there is little hope for reconciliation once a woman dissolves her marriage and the divorced man finds it extremely hard to rebuild his life. Divorced Egyptian men are often stigmatized by their male counterparts, who proudly boast that keeping their wives ‘in line’ is the key to marital bliss. However, even those macho men who claim dominance over their wives have absolutely no guarantee that they won’t find themselves at the receiving end of a divorce decree one day.

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