Today's lesson in Arab hypocrisy extends to local men's and closed-minded individuals' favorite topic: women.
There seems to be an obsession with women and anything that revolves around them. One personal decision that should solely be related to each adult, irrespective of their gender, is marriage. The problem is that the Arab world treats it as a mandatory goal when it comes to women.
Being called "3anes" or a spinster could easily target any woman aged 17 and up. Remaining single, in the Arab world, is frowned upon to the extent that some families would rather marry off their daughters to unsuitable husbands than risk having unmarried daughters.
What happens, then, when the lovely daughter decides to get married at, let's say, an appropriate age ... but the husband is not from her home country?
Thanks to the double standards that flourish in patriarchal societies, Khaleeji men, who can transfer their passports to their children, may marry foreign wives, while women can't do the same without criticism. This is what happened when Kuwaiti gold medalist and professional shooter Shahad Al-Hawwal married an Italian man over the weekend. Because of her husband's nationality, her wedding caught more attention than it should have. By now, the reason behind the virality of this regular event is known.
When popular Snapchat stars invited to the festivities posted about the ceremony online, people attacked Al-Hawwal for marrying a non-Kuwaiti man.
"This wedding revealed our patriarchal society that doesn't question a Kuwaiti man's decision to marry women of other nationalities but loses it over the marriage of a Kuwaiti woman to an Italian man."
This wouldn't be the first time a Kuwaiti or Khaleeji woman is publicly shamed for similar reasons, regardless of the little support they receive. In fact, it's a common practice that stems from deplorable misogynist rhetoric.
Hanan, a 29-year-old Kuwaiti teacher who married an Egyptian man two years ago, shared with StepFeed her own experience dealing with this double standard.
"My marriage is still unaccepted by many and when I meet anyone new they always ask things like: 'Why Egyptian?' In our societies, it's rare for women to marry foreigners because it's a social taboo," she told us.
Hanan is not, of course, the one and only Kuwaiti who has dared to venture into foreign spouses. At her workplace, she tells us, a number of male colleagues are similarly married to non-Kuwaitis, minus the scrutiny women face.
"It's like they're telling us that because we're women, we aren't allowed to fall in love, follow our hearts, live the way we want or choose who to marry. And if [we] break their rules, we have to face their endless bullying, racism and hate," Hanan added, emphasizing how she feels for Al-Hawaal who's being attacked simply because she chose to defy social norms.
Khaleeji women who marry foreigners can't pass on their nationalities to their kids
Not only do Khaleeji women who marry non-nationals face ridiculous social stigmas, but they also have to deal with unjust laws that prevent them from passing on their nationality to their husbands and children.
These legislations exist all over the Arab world including countries like Kuwait, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
Many believe the existence of such laws influences the way people view the issue. Some families, who worry about their daughters marrying a non-national and then having trouble staying in her own country with children, criticize this form of marriage as "socially unacceptable."
Overturning sexist laws regarding women's ability to pass on her nationality won't end the stigma attached to women marrying men from foreign countries. This is also attached to specific cultural and even socio-economic factors.
However, it will certainly help end some of the injustices women in our region are forced to endure just because they chose to practice their basic right to marry whoever they want.