Quit smoking and we’ll give you a wedding

Al Naqa Charity association has started a campaign to encourage Saudi citizens to quit smoking. Posters are hung on all the major streets stating in Arabic “You quit and we’ll give you a wedding”. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Saudi Arabia, knows that getting married is a costly affair for the groom. And what the charity is paying for is the wedding and dowry, they aren’t going to find a bride or mediate, just pay the bills. So far so good. Last Sunday a writer in al Watan newspaper Maha Al Jahilan slammed the charity comparing what the charity is offering to selling sex. I especially enjoyed her melodramatic conclusion which I translated:

Isn’t presenting a woman as a prize to a person who quits smoking comparable to what primitive societies did when they sacrificed women to gods by throwing them into rivers, or wild animals? Wouldn’t it be better if the charity offered to find jobs for the quitters to raise their income, or offered to help them in housing, or continue their education, or self-improvement courses instead of finding a solution that would create worse and uglier problem?

 Come on?! Is she serious? I consider myself a Saudi feminist if there ever was one and I saw those posters long before I read about them. It never occurred to me that they were demeaning to women. Her suggestions are fine and so is paying for a quitter’s marriage costs. But probably the charity’s idea might be a stronger motivator for the younger love-stricken smokers. But if people who are calling for more women rights in Saudi raise arms at every silly thing then that will undermine what they stand for and the conservatives won’t take then as seriously.

12 Comments

Filed under Culture

12 responses to “Quit smoking and we’ll give you a wedding

  1. LOL, if somebody would have promised me a wedding for quitting smoking, I never would have done it …that sounds rather like a punishment🙂

    BTW, what about your exams?

  2. Chiara

    I am amazed at the offer (because of the expense), and unfortunately sceptical about the chance of staying away from cigarettes once the “payment” is received. However, I agree that this woman’s comment is misplaced and is a disservice to women and feminism.

    It reminds me of a feminist scholar I worked with who insisted all pelvic exams were “rape” for all women (not even “like rape”, or exams by men)–excellent, women dieing of preventable cervical cancer, because there is no distinction between forced sex, and a voluntary medical exam. The kind of thing that gives feminist scholars a bad name as well.

    Great blog, and good luck with your exam results!

  3. I’m wondering about women, does it apply to women too? So they can say to their intended, ”Hee honey, forget about the weddingbill: I’ve stopped smoking!”
    Oh, no, you don’t get to talk to your intended…

    Naah, I didn’t get the ”women as a prize” idea from reading your description for the first time. But it happens you know, people will overreact at times.

    Best of luck for your examresults!

  4. I think it is only meant for men. They don’t care much about women there, if I am not mistaken.

  5. In a place where there are so many battles, sometimes its difficult to pick the right one! I heard about these signs and the offer, and thought the marriage bills were the reward, not the wife. I assumed the smoker already had a wife picked out… but then this isn’t my culture so I don’t know the ins and outs. I would agree, however, that the incentive of better employment might be more powerful in MOST place, just not here. Another great topic and I’m glad your exams are behind you!

  6. Pingback: Quit Smoking and Your Wedding is On Us - LI Islamic Forum

  7. It just goes to show you how strongly an issue it is for some of those who believe that they are doing rightous influencing.

  8. This is a wonderful idea. I am sure many people will find this useful. Quit Smoking

  9. This is a wonderful idea. I am sure many people will find this useful. Quit Smoking

  10. Very informative post. You have made some good points. I still can’t believe that they had to quit smoking in order to get married.

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