There was an article in yesterday's Arab News - which I was going to do a post on, and then didn't. So, today...
Unlike in the West, where there is "marriage" and it means "marriage" in the traditional sense between a man and a woman - except for in Massachusetts and California, here, one has a choice of different kinds of marriage: traditional marriage, misyar marriage, mesfar marriage, and now, wanasa marriage.
In layman terms, as I understand it, the traditional marriage, here, involves the man and woman signing some sort of contract that they will be man and wife - honestly, I do not know what terms and conditions go into a marriage contract or all of the specifics involved which lead up to the point that the contract is entered into, although this does state that the terms of such contracts are being "stepped up." A neighbor of mine - really, this blogger lives practically within walking distance of me although we have never met - is much more knowledgeable on traditional marriage than I, insofar as "traditional marriage" here, and this post of Nzingha's offers a picturesque description.
A misyar marriage is a marriage that allows a man and woman to have sex with no strings attached. There may be more to it than that, but basically, it is a temporary kind of union where the man does not have to be responsible for the woman. Legal prostitution. The mesfar marriage allows for women to have a temporary marriage so that they can have a husband who will accompany them if they opt to travel abroad. Or something like that. And, finally, the wanasa marriage is "devised for men, mostly old men who need company." Or, more to the point, the translation is "fun company."
The traditional marriage, in this part of the world, where a specific religion is predominantly and almost exclusively practiced, allows a man to have four wives. Four. According to this, there is a "growing trend within the Kingdom where a man takes a second wife for the sole purpose of making her nothing more than a maid or surrogate mother." Umm hmmm. Just a presumption on my part, but I'd venture to bet that there are not a lot of women who are going to be happy being considered an "indentured housemaid," no matter what religion you practice, in ANY marriage!