Marriage arrangements [Archives:2003/651/Culture]

July 17 2003

By Fahmi Ameen Al-Absi
In some areas in Yemen, marriage is a family rather than a personal affair because males and females in those areas do not mix socially. Young men and women have few or no chances to get acquainted with each other. Traditionally, parents arrange marriages for their sons or daughters. Finding a mate is done through either their own social contracts or professional match markers. Some Yemeni tribes strictly observe the principle of “Kafaa” which is interpreted as no woman may marry a man whose family is inferior to the social status of her family.
In case of finalizing marriages, representatives of the bride's would negotiate the marriage contract arrangements with the groom's representatives. According to law, the future husband and wife must express their consent, but they usually take no part in the arrangements taken in the process of completing the agreement of their marriage. The marriage is concluded by the bridegroom's and the bride's male representatives rather than by the bride herself. The contract establishes the terms of the marriage and outlines appropriate recourse in the event these terms are broken. Special provision inserted into the contract becomes binding to both parties. Men, of course, exercise authority in the marriage home. A man may marry more than one wife and he may divorce his wife at his will. Children belong to the husband's family and stay with him in case of divorce.