Twenty- four-year-old Achraf Hakimi, the Moroccan footballer who plays for Paris Saint-Germain and the Moroccan national team has registered a lot of his property in his mother’s name, probably to avoid a situation whereby his property would be given to his wife in case of a divorce in addition to alimony, as it obtains in the Western world. Or who knows, he might have done it out of sheer love and loyalty to his mother.
Now his wife Hiba Abouk filed for divorce and is demanding 50 percent of his wealth, only to find that most of it was registered in his mother’s name Fatima. They have two children.
“The only woman he can trust,” is a gleeful joke on social media, even though alimony is not applied here in Nigeria in case of a divorce.
Though the clerics tell us that a husband is supposed to give his wife a token in the case of divorce, it doesn’t happen. In fact some even confiscate what they have given to the wives. Or what belongs to the wives through what they earned, inherited or given by relations. Their aim is to totally destabilise the wives financially, so that they would become a subject of pity and ridicule. And maybe they hope the wives would feel remorse.
Some women would however never regret it. Just recently I heard a cleric said, “Don’t push a woman too much. If you see that she obeys you, she seeks your forgiveness when she offends you, don’t take her for granted, because by the time you push her to the wall, no matter how wealthy you are or how educated you are, she will demand divorce from you without qualms and would never look back.”
Therefore while alimony is not part of our system here, some mechanisms are however being put in place to address some of the financial problems, especially the immediate ones.
For example in a situation where a woman is divorced after twenty or thirty years of marriage, she is expected to go back to her parents’ house (they might have died), or her brother’s house, where his wife would not welcome her. She may go with some of the children or all of them.
She may have a job or run a petty business or don’t even do anything and relies on the husband for everything. So how does she and her children survive now? Even if she were to start looking for a job or other means of livelihood, she needs immediate help.
In such a case agencies such a Hisba intervene or even the courts if the women have the courage to go there, as even going to seek redress in court is considered a taboo. So they usually suffer neglect and forced to bear, while they are told that the negligence is not unIslamic! But they are discouraged to seek the Islamic way and get justice.
Where the Hisba or the courts come in, the husband is asked to provide a place for the wife and her children, provide food for the children, pay their school fees, cloths and so on.
Men that shy away from their responsibilities are forced to take them. If not, some children would drop out of school and roam about aimlessly. Some may fall into the hands of gangs and become miscreants while their own fathers look the other way.
Through this method, it is also expected to reduce the occurrence of divorce, as some may do it to avoid responsibility, but they are told in no uncertain terms that some things will no longer be tolerated.
If a man is asked to pay rent or give his divorced wife a house if he can afford to, after all she deserves this dignity after say, thirty years of marriage, not disgrace and embarrassment, it would make marriage more enduring.
There was one woman who was divorced with three children. She raised them alone and put them through school. The father refused to do anything for them. When they became adults and got jobs, he resurfaced; staking a claim on them and that was when she sparked literally and figuratively. He accused her of inciting his children against him, so she brought out all the receipts of school fees, hospitals, including from pharmacies that she kept over the years and he felt ashamed.
In any case, even if not exactly alimony some ways are needed to give respite to women and their children. They should not be thrown out of the houses and lives they help built, even in doing only the thankless job of cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children. They deserve a share.