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These women have actually matured in a patriarchal community — a country where gender job is very unique, as well as in whichmen accurately possess command over the women. In Bosnia and also Herzegovina, social desires control that women suppose a more suppressed function than the men.
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A thirty-six year old woman from Sarajevo, who has two children from her first marriage, told BIRN about how she married an Arab, to become his second wife. She says her new husband, who is 51, originally came to Bosnia for business, to open a small company in Sarajevo.
They met, the woman recalls, when he came to her place of work. She says they joked and she noticed him looking at her. After a while, a mutual friend who is already married to an Arab introduced them. This friend explained that the man was looking for a Bosnian wife, to help her if he could.
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She says it took her about two months to familiarize herself with his way of life and habits over the phone and through video messages. Her father gave his consent to their marriage, so they got married in Sarajevo.
The story from the woman from Sarajevo represents a new trend in which Bosnian women, usually with the consent of fathers or brothers, marry businessmen from Arab countries who are increasingly coming to Bosnia, either for business or for holidays which they spend in apartments or houses they rent or buy here. Most of these men already have one or more wives, which is allowed by the Islamic Sharia law that is respected in these countries.
Bosnian brides usually remain living in the country and are waiting for their husbands to visit them. She explained that this group of about 20 women, who have Arab husbands, prays together and meets regularly.
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In case an Imam would eventually perform such a ceremony, a disciplinary procedure would be initiated against him, because he would be violating the procedures applied within the Islamic Community. Sharia wedding in Bosnia and Herzegovina is allowed but only symbolically and after the couple is married in accordance with the Family Law. According to that law, polygamy is not allowed, i.
Also, Sharia wedding alone is not legally recognized. Sarajevo Mufti Enes Ljevakovic, says the Islamic Community has no exact data on Arab men marrying Bosnian women as their second or third wives. Yet according to the woman from Sarajevo, this does not prevent women from marrying Arab men. She said that she loves her husband, but admitted that his financial support to her was also a factor in the marriage.
According to her, the Arabs meet potential wives through friends and others who have already found a match. She added that Arab men most often marry religious women, but stressed that her husband did not request her to wear a Niqab a part of Hijab that covers face or head like the one worn by women in Arab countries.
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Attorney Esad Hrvacic explains that nobody has the right to practice polygamy on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The woman from Sarajevo says that, when she accepted to marry the Arab man, she was aware of the fact that her husband would not be with her every day. She explains he visits Bosnia and Herzegovina almost every month, depending on the amount of work he has to deal with in his own country or in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We speak to each other and communicate via video calls every day. She explains that the age difference between women and their Arab husbands varies from two to 20 years.
A Bosnian woman, who married a man from Kuwait at the age of 23, thus becoming his second wife, has a similar faith. The year old woman refused to reveal the name of her hometown because of disapproval of her fellow citizens.
As she said, an Imam whose identity she does not want to disclose conducted the wedding ceremony of this woman and her new husband.
We saw each other often and then he asked for my hand. Now, my husband comes monthly… We talk every day. I have a daughter from my first marriage and I knew going in that he had another wife. This is not a problem.
The woman from Sarajevo stressed that women who want to marry Arab men have to accept the fact that their husbands will not be here all the time, because they are married and have children and jobs in their countries. When she got married to an Arab, the woman from Sarajevo got a Mahr property or certain amount of money given by husband in case of divorce. She says she is not worried that he could one day just stop coming back to her, since he has proved to be an honourable man and she knows him well.
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Besides that, she points out that he gives her a certain amount of money each month to support her family and cover other costs as well. After an influx of tourists and investors from Gulf countries in recent years, Bosnia faces a new issue - Arab men marrying local women as second or third wives, who remain in the country waiting for their husbands' occasional visits.
Protection of women Sarajevo Mufti Enes Ljevakovic, says the Islamic Community has no exact data on Arab men marrying Bosnian women as their second or third wives. She claims most of the women in her group which have Arab husbands married for both reasons. Sharing a husband The woman from Sarajevo says that, when she accepted to marry the Arab man, she was aware of the fact that her husband would not be with her every day.
Bosnia and Herzegovina. Follow us. Published by BIRN.