Muhammad Al-Ghamdi says that he was happily married to his first wife, who bore him three sons. When household duties became too much for her, she asked Muhammad to hire a maid. The maid was a pretty Indonesian Muslim who was well treated by the wife until Muhammad began to show too much interest in her. Things got so bad that one day the wife began to beat the maid.
Muhammad says, “I told her to fear God and threatened to marry the maid if she didn’t stop mistreating her. Things got worse so I decided to carry out my threat. I got the maid an exit/re-entry visa and we traveled to Indonesia together and got married.
“When my wife found out, she demanded a divorce and I agreed. What is strange though is that my children love, and are more attached to, my second wife — ‘the maid’ — than they are to their mother because my second wife treats them better.”
Samira told Sayidaty, a sister publication of Arab News, that she had been married more than 25 years and, with her husband’s consent, worked as a teacher at a government school. Due to her neglect of some household duties, the maid began taking responsibility for the house and the children. Her husband began to rely on her more and more.
“I noticed that he was paying her a lot of attention but I didn’t think much about it. Then he began to compare us, saying that the maid knew where everything was in the house and was more attentive to him than I was.
“I felt that I was neglecting him and the children, but my responsibilities at work overwhelmed me. My husband threatened to marry another woman but I thought it was just talk.”
Sometime later, the maid went on her annual vacation. A week after she left, Samira’s husband told her he had to attend an international conference. When he returned, she was surprised to see the maid on his side; he had traveled to her country and married her there.
“I was shocked of course, but I accepted her, thinking that I would dedicate my time to my work while she took care of the house. She still lives with us and has a child but my husband has been unable to get permission for the marriage and now regrets it.”
Zainab Al-Harbi has a similar story and says that as soon as the maid entered the picture, problems began as her husband began to grow close to the maid. One day he handed her divorce papers. A week later she learned that her husband had married the maid and she is convinced that it had all been due to black magic.
Siham Ahmad says that she and her husband hired an Indonesian maid who was about the age of their eldest son. The two were attracted to each other and the maid got pregnant. “We decided to allow them to marry in order to avoid a scandal,” Siham said.
Noura Muhammad says that since the family hired Suhair, a beautiful and cultured Arab maid, she has been jealous of her. Her husband and children regularly consult her and treat her so respectfully that in the end she became the housewife taking care of everyone’s needs, especially the husband, who decided to marry her.
“I asked for a divorce and don’t regret it,” said Noura.
Maryam, an Indonesian maid who married her sponsor, says that his first wife was employed outside and in the evenings, she was busy with her social life. “She left the house, her children and her husband in my care; my sponsor appreciated my eight years of hard work and asked me to marry him. I agreed, especially since his children like me.”
Zahra was once a maid and says that she worked for a family for 10 years and was treated well. The wife fell ill unexpectedly and died; the husband was severely affected by her death and became ill and bed-ridden. “I took care of him and when he got better, he said that he would marry me in return for all my hard work and because his children loved me. I agreed and we have now three children.”
Saeeda Muhammad from Africa says that she worked for a Saudi family who treated her well and made her feel like a member of the family. The couple had five daughters but the husband wanted a son and as a result, problems arose between the two that led to divorce.
“I stayed in the house taking care of the husband and his daughters for more than a year. Then one day he asked my father for my hand in marriage. We are now married and have a son.”
An official who deals with marriages, Ahmad Abdel Qader Al-Moaibi, says that if the marriage is undertaken in the legal way — after obtaining a license from the authorities and having the marriage registered in the courts — then it is valid. Maids are human beings who have been forced to seek work owing to circumstances.
“If we were to assign fault, then much of the time it falls on the wife who absents herself from the house and its responsibilities and pays no attention to her husband who then marries the maid,” he said.
The kind of marriage, however, in which a contract is signed between a Saudi and a foreigner working illegally in the country or between a couple who travel outside the Kingdom to get married can only be temporary. Too often they end in divorce, leaving in their wake tragedies and social dangers.
Credit for the above information: “Maids Who End Up as Wives” by Jamal Abdul Khaliq – National News Jeddah, Friday, May 20, 2011
Polygamy 411 thanks our special commentator “Khadija” for bringing the article to our attention and for sharing the article with us.