In the Thursday, 29, March, 2007 (10, Rabi` al-Awwal, 1428) edition of the Arab News was a piece entitled Cheating the System. This piece talks about 13 young Saudi women, post-graduate students, who are looking for temporary husbands. The reason is that the women have won a scholarship to travel abroad to study. The reason for the temporary husbands? Seems that one of the conditions applied by the Saudi Ministry of Education is that for the women who wish to go abroad on this scholarship, they must be escorted or accompanied by a male guardian.
Of course, the silly thing is that if they were going to travel on their own expenses, then the women would not need to be accompanied by a guardian.
As the paper notes:
At one time, the women would simply have accepted things and begun a hectic search for a guardian who could sacrifice several years of his life to spend as a baby-sitter and moral policeman. Now in the 21st century, the women are looking for a temporary husband to go with them since it seems they cannot be trusted to go alone. I wonder about Saudi women who go abroad to study at their own expense; they are apparently exempt from this requirement.
A survey was conducted by a team from the Ministry of Education that showed 20% of the women interviewed saw no harm in entering into one of these “marriages of convenience”.
It seems that these are not so uncommon in Saudi Arabia, as this particular type of marriage is called a mesfar and it is designed for women travellers. The mesfar marriage also seems to be gaining in popularity.
Full details are in the Arab News – follow the link above for the story.