32% Of Saudi Women Hide Their Wealth From Husbands

RIYADH, 8 February 2005 — Thirty-two percent of wives in Saudi Arabia keep their assets or part of their earnings as well as their assets secret from their husbands. Their assets are in bank accounts, stocks and shares or property other than real estate, according to a survey conducted by a London-based research firm, Synovate.

According to the survey which dealt with nine countries, “this tendency is even more prevalent in Japan, where 38 percent of wives keep their husbands in the dark about their assets; 32 percent of wives in Saudi Arabia do so and 21 percent in China.”

A cross-section of Saudi women said many husbands regularly make use of the salary and other assets of their wives. In some cases, because of social pressure or tradition, the women have no option but to turn their assets, including family property, over to their husbands.

“Men in many cases control their wives’ earnings, conduct banking transactions on behalf of their wives and use the money for household expenses,” said Madeeha Al-Azroud, a Saudi psychotherapist.

Dr. Bothayna Murshid, dean of the nursing department at Riyadh’s King Abdul Aziz Medical City, said she did not agree with the survey’s findings. She pointed out that keeping wealth secret would “be a breach of conjugal trust, whether a wife hides money or assets from her husband or vice versa.”

She admitted, however, that many women had their own personal bank accounts. “I have my account and my husband has his but we share information about deposits, investments and expenses.”

Dr. Fauzia Al-Bakr, a professor at the College of Education in King Saud University, supported women’s keeping their assets secret from their husbands. She said Saudi women had different kinds of problems from those of women in other countries.

“The alarming divorce rate is one of the major causes contributing to the insecurity of Saudi women. This has compelled women to hide wealth for a rainy day in case they separate from their husbands,” Dr. Al-Bakr said.

In the survey, some wives said they simply do not inform their husbands about their property or assets while others said they do but without giving a precise amount.

Aged between 25 and 35, the women contacted for the survey also have full-time jobs and are able to support themselves financially.

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