Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's a Tie for the Worst Father of the Year Award

Shahadeh Abu Arrar is looking for wife #9. He’s 58, a member of Israel’s Bedouin community, and already has 67 children by several wives (currently, he only has eight wives; he has others in the West Bank and he has divorced some, too).

Two months ago, CNN and Secret Dubai Diary did a similar story on a similar character: this one “Daad Mohammed Murad Abdul Rahman, 60, has already had 15 brides although he has to divorce them as he goes along to remain within the legal limit of four wives at a time.” Oh, well, at least he’s legal.

What both these stories are missing is the women’s side. Why would they marry this guy? What happens to the women that these men divorce? How do all of them feel about their husband?

The Associated Press started going in the proper direction at the end of their story: the real news here is that these women are most likely getting shafted.

Abdul Rahman and Abu Arrar use their wives as a means to an end (making lots of babies). Abdul Rahman plans to have something like 100 children by 2015. His initiatives are “to ‘remove the demographic imbalance’ of Asian expatriates [in the U.A. E.]- despite the fact that eight out of his first eleven wives are Asian.” Also, “Daad relies on his wives to do much of the housework, so he says he needs to replace them when they get too old. When one woman became weak, another strong one had to be brought in to manage the home.”

Abu Arrar has similar sentiments about his “useless” older wives: “My first wife is my age, and today I hardly spend any time with her. Her children are big, and I leave her alone. I have younger wives to spend time with. Every night I decide which wife to be with,” he says.

What? These women aren’t oxen! They’re not a new pair of shoes! These guys treat their wives like baby machines or new hobbies. Maybe they treat their children that way, too?

It seems like Abu Arrar and Abdul Rahman simply view all their offspring as a hilarious past-time (not to mention a circus show with a racist agenda, in Abdul Rahman’s case) that propels them into the news.

Well, the chickens will come home to roost: a man cannot be a good husband equally to four (or eight) wives. Allah will judge him for that. But also, it is impossible to be a good father to 67 children or 78 children or however many they have now. How can a family of 78 children be close? Children of a certain age group will be closer to those who are in their immediate age groups and those who take care of them (their mothers, older siblings, etc.). But a child can’t have a good relationship with her/his father when there are 77 other children vying for that old man’s attention! And what does a child of five years have in common with a sibling of 36 years? Nothing but the same horny old man for a father!

What worries me most is the message that this sends to these men’s daughters. These girls might see their mothers get cast off and will grow up thinking that women are only good for producing offspring and cleaning the house. And when they get old and weak, they need to be replaced.