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Posted On: 26 July 2009 03:23 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Women sliding silently into spinsterhood

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Strict family traditions, financial constraints and dearth of suitable young men are among the major reasons for the growing number of single Qatari women, sources said. Salama, a Qatari social worker in her thirties who withheld her last name, was almost married once but lost the chance because of her family. “It’s not easy to meet someone new, it’s all in the family’s hand,” she said, referring to the rigid family traditions that are hard to be broken. The problems make it difficult for match-makers like Um Khalid to do their job. “For every 100 ladies I have on my list there are only ten young men,” she said. Demographics are not the only reason, she added. Speaking from her ten years of experience, Um Khalid stated that many families of potential brides insisted that the groom be of the same family, or at least of the same social standard, “which is not always an easy to find”, she says. According to Dr Taher Shaltout, Psychiatric Consultant, the problem can go much deeper. “Every person is prepared mentally and physically to perform certain tasks at certain periods in their lives, and humans are prepared to marry between puberty and the age of 40,” he said. “Once a person passes this phase without fulfilling the expected task,” he said, “they struggle to continue with the other tasks life expects of them, and become depressed, tense and anxious”. Shaltout believes the numbers of young women unable to marry are high, but he did not have the figures for them “because patients do not always disclose the cause of their depression” to their psychiatrist. A recent study carried out by the sociology department at Qatar University shows that 20% of girls aged between 30 and 34 in Qatar are unmarried. The same study found that 3.14% of girls aged 29 to 39 are also single. Social expert and columnist Hessa al-Awady believes the most important factor is financial. “In the past decade the demands of modern marriage have been enormous, more than an average young man can afford,” she said, citing QR100,000 demanded by families for the marriage reception, which the groom has to bear alone. Al-Awady added that though these habits have continued over the past decade, families are not aware that they contribute to the current statistics. “They continue to reject grooms for these reasons until the train has passed,” she said. The problem is not specific to Qatari women. Amna Mohamed is sister to six girls, ages 19 to 36, who are having trouble meeting Mr. Right. The Sudanese who was born and raised in Doha, is 23 herself, and is starting to lose hope. “The older you get, the smaller the chance of getting married,” she said. According to Amna, it is unusual in Arab culture to be unmarried in your thirties. She says that for expatriates like her, it is almost impossible to find a suitable match. “We’re too busy working during the day and too tired during the night to arrange match-making events,” she said. Shaltout advised women and men who have not been able to marry to look for unmarried people who have succeeded in their lives and learn some lessons from them and find constructive outlets for their energies.