Matchmaking Scams Are New Enemy In Saudi Arabia

Matchmaking Scams Are New Enemy In Saudi Arabia

RIYADH — With more than 257,000 unmarried women in the country, and strict religious codes, traditional matchmaking is a lucrative business in Saudi Arabia. Yet with the rise of social media and online marriage websites, the industry is coming under pressure to stay financially viable, which has led to several recent reports of scandals that have broken both hearts and the country's strict Islamic laws.

The recent allegations of matchmaking abuses led to an uproar that prompted the Saudi government to launch multi-ministry investigations and seek new regulations. The Saudi ministries of Justice, Interior and Social Affairs have highlighted particularly outrageous cases, in which matchmakers — sometimes operating with fake licenses — “tricked” their clients, Al-Arabiya reported.

For instance, a matchmaker "engaged" one of her female clients to two different men at the same time, receiving money from both. Another case reveals that a matchmaker bought several SIM cards to pose as a woman interested in marrying one of her clients. Others are under fire for posting photos of single women online, including very private information about their body type and height. Pictures of clients are never publicly displayed in Saudi Arabia — they remain in the hands of matchmakers.

Matchmakers play a crucial role in the Saudi society. The country's strict gender segregation makes it very difficult for potential mates to meet. Though the Internet has proved a boon for those looking to get married without familial interference, traditional matchmakers often provide more confidentiality.

Photo: hamza82

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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