Miyada is from a village in the Suweida governorate. She got married just before graduating from the Faculty of Engineering in Damascus, but insisted on completing her studies, telling The Syria Report that her “inner voice always pointed to the need for graduating from university.”
A year after her marriage, she gave birth to her first child, then continued her studies, graduated, and got a job in the public sector. By her fifth year of marriage, Miyada had three children.
Though her story seems to paint a picture of an ideal family, the truth is different. Since the first year of her marriage, Miyada has had intense disputes with her husband. He was not violent, but had a hot temper and was prone to extreme reactions, often disregarding Miyada’s opinions.
“My husband saw life from just one perspective,” Miyada says, “that we all have to be alike and have the same needs and feelings. If I or one of my children gets sick, we mustn’t rest. Instead, we must get up and live our life normally because weakness is a flaw. There’s no need for us to do repairs or renovations in the house, even if we are uncomfortable, as the purpose of a house is to provide us with a door that locks and walls that keep us inside.”
After 15 years of marriage and during a holiday with the children, Miyada and her husband had a disagreement. He became agitated and insulted her and her family. “On this day, I felt I could not bear it any longer and that I needed to distance myself,” she said. That day, Miyada did not return home with him, taking her young children to her parents’ house instead. Only her eldest son went home with his father.
“Even though my family saw the insults I was subjected to, and the insults that the family had suffered, they were angry with me when they learned I wanted to divorce him. None of my brothers supported me, only my sister did.”
In 2009, Miyada filed a marital dissolution lawsuit in the Druze Unitarian Court in Suweida, as she was unable to continue married life with her husband at the time. Fortunately, she was able to finalise her divorce.
Afterward, Miyada’s siblings asked her to return to her parents’ house and live in a room allocated for her and her children, known as the muqatiah (“partition”) room. According to Druze customs, the muqatiah room is a room within a house or a small standalone apartment specified in the bequest for the residential use and benefit of an unmarried woman, a widow, or a divorcee. Women are often given the right of usufruct for such rooms in bequests made by their fathers or brothers. In some cases, women are given ownership of these rooms.
However, Miyada was unhappy with this solution and rented a house in Damascus to live in with her children. Her brothers reluctantly agreed to let her go about her business, particularly because her eldest son, who was then 14 years old, would live with her, hence there would be a “man” there to protect her from people, neighbours, and the streets.
The court granted Miyada alimony from her husband, for herself and her two younger children, amounting to SYP 1,000 per month at that time. “I was fortunate to be working, and that my ex-husband did not just provide the alimony but tried to help us, my children and I, in all ways possible,” she says. “He is now married and has another family, but he has maintained a good relationship with his children.”
Miyada takes pride in the fact that she insisted on completing her studies and finding employment. This allowed her to stick to her decision, to bear the responsibility of her children, and live independently in her own house. These advantages are not afforded to many women who live in similar circumstances.