A Silent North African Bride, Staring Into a Corner

It was a quiet afternoon, I was sitting with my sister and my mother in our living room. I felt frustrated about the women’s situation in the whole MENA region. This week something sorrowful happened in my town that left all families in an overwhelming grief. There was a woman in our town that had a small fight with her husband, so she decided to stay in her father’s house until ¬†her husband comes to ask for forgiveness and to get her back to their marriage house. A tradition that is highly applied by most of Algerian women once they get into any fight with their husbands. And yes, after a few days, her husband came asking for his wife back. However the father refused that she returns to him and he threatened to kill him if he approaches her knowing that they both are still married. The husband insisted that his wife goes with him. He returned again to his step-father’s house with his own father this time insisting on the man to allow his daughter to leave. Her father entered the house and brought a gun. He shot both of the husband and his father. The woman ran away. The neighborhood was a mess. This man’s stubbornness sucked out the life from two families and made his own a huge mess.

The saddest thing about this whole thing, is that, no one asked the poor woman what she wanted. Did she want to return to her husband? Was she seeking for a divorce? Or did she only want a small break from this whole marriage thing? Nobody bothered to ask. Just like robots, women over here are programmed on these traditions. Applying them without the need to debate. It is a shame and a disrespect to argue over a tradition. It is not acceptable to say no to the elders, and mostly unforgivable to say no to the men ruling the house. They get to decide.

I know that this is not the case for all women here, but I keep hearing and seeing these domestic violence acts everywhere around me, every single day, and it just saddens me that they keep repeating themselves.

I wanted to remain strong in front of my mother because she had to go through a lot, after losing her beloved sister – my aunt- that was murdered by her ¬†oppressive husband more than twenty years ago. Due to his wrongful doubts thinking that she was cheating on him. My aunt wasn’t even allowed to leave the house nor to visit her own family. The lady was locked in the house, no way to cheat on this man. Eventually, and fearlessly without having any second thoughts he murdered the woman. This is a past story, I never met my aunt but how everyone speaks about her makes her alive in everyone’s heart in our family.

My mother saw the frustration in my eyes. She looked at me, laughed and said:

-You know Ikram back when I was a kid, I remember going to weddings with your grandmother. The wedding starts early in the morning and ends late in the afternoon. For this whole period, you would see a woman wearing a long white scarf facing the corner of the living room as she sits on the floor. Can you guess who is that?

-I have no clue! Who is she?

– Sweety that’s the bride. Back then, the bride was forced by the traditions to remain silent, and not turn her head and look at the guests, that would be very shameful! Illustration of the algerian bride back then

-But why!!!

-Too simly because she is the bride.

-That is so oppressive mother! She couldn’t even enjoy her own wedding!

-I know. My generation seemed to be more liberal – she said sarcastically- we refused to apply this kind of traditions, and decided to go by our owns. You see darling, this tradition vanished. Today, the bride doesn’t remain silent, especially in algerian weddings, you would confuse if it’s a bride or a model.

We were more rebel, we used to make others listen to our opinions, we demonstrated what we hated, what we wanted. We refused to remain silent as those brides. I want you to keep in mind that even-though you were born in a different body than the male’s one, this shouldn’t make you feel less equal to them. Never let anyone decide in your place, never fall in love with an oppressive man. Save your life, save your dreams from these kind of sick people that suck the life out of women. Women will not be oppressed forever only if they decide to stand up for themselves and start speaking for what they really want. And most importantly, the women’s situation will be better when women stop endowing themselves to oppressive men. I would be a shamed to know one day that my daughter is a silent bride staring into a corner.