Nanna and Heba
Halfway around the world in Cairo, Egypt, a city teeming with 20 million residents, the traditional idea of marriage is being tested. In Egypt, one in three marriages end in divorce, making it the country with the highest divorce rate in the Arab world.

Nanna Norup, a woman Oprah met while visiting Copenhagen, Denmark , travels to Cairo to speak with Egyptian women about their marital experiences. First, Nanna meets Heba, a 33-year-old interior designer in Cairo who is divorced.

For centuries, only men could initiate a divorce. Then, just 10 years ago, women were given the power to go to court and end their marriages. Men still aren't required to go through official, legal proceedings. They can simply tell their wives they want a divorce, and the marriage is over.

Though divorce is becoming common, Heba says it's not highly regarded. "It's a bit of a stigma for a woman," she says. After a divorce, Heba says many women, like herself, move back into their parents' homes.

In Denmark, people don't always choose to get married to their long-term partners. Nanna says she and her boyfriend have lived together for 14 years but feel no pressure to marry.

In Egypt, however, living together out of wedlock is a major taboo, Heba says. "We can't live with our boyfriends," she says. "It wouldn't be socially accepted."
FROM: Marriage Around the World
Published on January 13, 2010


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