The rapid increase in the number of unmarried women in Saudi Arabia has created an alarming situation for the whole society. It may not be a serious matter for any other society but in KSA where most of the women get married in their early twenties, it is a serious matter. There are multiple reasons for this situation and it is also not a change overnight. Increase in divorce ratio and a trend of attaining a standard position in professional carrier are also a reason of this situation. In the past few years divorce ratio has increased, resultantly it made an addition in number of single women. Multiple surveys, conducted by different national newspapers have shown the fact that ratio of divorce between couples has increased rapidly.
The other main cause of women being single in the 20s and then in 30s is the goal of having a sound status in professional carrier. In a survey conducted for collection of facts shows that women of this generation prefer higher studies and brilliant carrier on getting married early. In the 27th year of her age, Amna is an example of growing number of women those have a choice of being unmarried in 20s and 30s of their life. She is pursuing a master’s degree in Georgetown University, Washington. She says that she wants a brilliant professional carrier and wants her life to be different as compared with the generation of her mother’s age. Amna has a point of view about that generation that they did not have an ambition in life and those women got married in early 20s of their life, usually to a man not chosen by them rather the family.
Amna Fatani and her friends have decided to pursue their goals in professional life. Fatani also wants a husband who has similar ambitions like her, she wants a husband who trusts her and let her make decisions on her own behalf in the life, giving her the liberty to do that on her own or ask for help. Many social experts are of the view that Saudi women of this age are right there in the center of a turning point in the society. The state authorities and institutions are doing constant efforts to increase the ratio of higher education in women and giving them more rights and liberties to work and at the same time there are laws that give the right of final decision to the male members of the family. Women of the society need permission of an elder or sometimes younger male member for certain matters like studying and travelling abroad.
While the increase in getting higher education is giving a trend to have a strong professional carrier, many of the women are unhappy because of the procedure of marriage. Long lasting rules explain that families are supposed to arrange the marriages. The families with conservative views take it as scandalous, if the daughter looks for a husband of her own choice. Showfa (an Arabic term for viewing) is a sitting arranged by parents in which the prospected husband can see his “bride to be” without the traditional Hijab while sitting with other family members. It is sometimes the only chance where a man and woman can see each other before the final decision of engagement and on the other hand the most conservative families allow seeing the bride only after wedding.
An expert and professor in history of women in Saudi Arabia, Mrs. Hatoon says that education is also changing the women’s attitude about the marital matters and it has given them more confidence. Some of the women of this age challenge the rules as to how a woman can meet her prospective husband. Existence of secret courtships, hidden from eyes of parents is proof of this rebellious shift in behavior of younger generation. The role of internet and social media has also outpaced the traditional ways. Rigid codes of tribal life have ruled the society and especially the terms of marital affairs for decades, so this new trend in women has highly annoyed conservatives and they take is as an upset for the foundations of the Kingdom. Religious scholars and representatives have also responded this trend and they again pushed for early marriages and explained the evils of spinsterhood.
Whether it is the ambition for professional carrier or an urge of change in the procedure for decision of marriage, the bottom line is that number of unmarried women in 20s and 30s of age is alarmingly increasing. It is highly needed that the state authorities, experts of human behavior, religious scholars, the representatives of youth and head of families shall play their role in this situation.
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