Haya Al Ahmad – Deir Ezzor
Um Saleh (pseudonym), a woman from Deir Ezzor who completed her education but was not employed. She got married, had children, and lived with her in-laws in the same house.
Her story began when she decided to apply for a job to help her husband with household expenses and children, and here her problems began: “At first, I faced rejection from my husband towards the idea of working, and his family supported him in this because their customs do not allow women to work outside their home except in specific jobs that are limited to agriculture and livestock farming”.
However, with Um Saleh’s insistence, she was finally able to convince her husband, “I reached an agreement with my husband that I would pursue a job that does not require spending long hours outside the home and that the job does not interfere with my household duties”. Indeed, Um Saleh applied for a job in the field of education and was accepted as a teacher in one of the schools.
Um Saleh started working at school: “My work shift was in the morning, and I would return home to continue my duties as a mother and a housewife, bearing all the exhaustion and pressure like a machine that knows no rest. Despite this, I was filled with enthusiasm in order to be a productive and effective woman”.
The time for receiving salaries came and Um Saleh was looking forward to earning her first salary. She heard her fellow teachers talking about their plans to buy their needs and supplies: “I received my salary and went back home and told my husband about receiving my first salary. I was excited and filled with happiness after achieving my dream that accompanied me since I started my studies and became a teacher, with a monthly salary that allows me to spend on my children and buy whatever I like”.
Um Saleh continues that her husband asked her to let him use her salary because he believed he was more capable of doing so: “Indeed, Abu Saleh received my salary and I tried to console myself with justifications that were almost satisfactory for me that there was no difference between me and my husband. The important thing was that I became a productive woman. When I received the second salary, my husband asked for it as well, and the situation did not change for the third and fourth salary, but my salary automatically became his. Sometimes, and as a joke, I refused at first, but his request was serious, and he would not be satisfied with anything but getting the salary under the pretext of household expenses”.
Um Saleh continued to work as Abu Saleh continued to take her salary every month. Even though when she asked him to buy new clothes because she went to school every day and needed new clothes, his answer was that he had no money left!
The matter remained the same until one day it was decided to increase the salary of 100,000 pounds. “I decided not to tell anyone about the increase because I want to enjoy part of my earnings. I shopped without my husband’s knowledge. But I was not happy, and I had a feeling of regret” she added.
Like her fellow teachers, she decided to do additional tutoring lessons after school. She asked her husband to give tutoring classes at home, but she was met with objection: “My father-in-law intervened indirectly. Since we lived in his house, I had to agree to his demands. He asked me to contribute to the household expenses from the money I earned as a private tutor, claiming that he needed the money to buy livestock for trade. So, I started sharing the household expenses in addition to my husband’s salary”.
Um Saleh tolerated the situation at first until the time came when she couldn’t bear it anymore. She says “I resorted to my family, but to no avail. They would simply end any conversation by saying “the woman and what she owns is for the husband, and he is more capable of managing the household expenses”.
Um Saleh began to be dominated by some blame and regret and almost entered a state of depression. She says ” What gave me hope was that I was still strong because of my children, and I was able to change a part of my life. My only hope is that society believes in the abilities of women and opposes the constraints that have become like a prison surrounding women and girls”.
Mrs. Um Saleh concluded her story by saying: “Our society should value our efforts and respect our rights. The violations of women’s economic rights must not continue. If I can get an opportunity to work, it is my right that I was deprived of. I don’t want my daughters to live with their rights being compromised. They should get their full rights”.