Technology, migrant labor, and patriarchy: three world systems that bring benefits to some have become a tragic combination for the Tajik women whose husbands are divorcing them remotely via text message, reports Radio Free Europe.
Tajikistan's struggling economy means that as many as one in seven Tajiks works abroad, often spending most of the year away. The country is also heavily dependent on the remittances that constitute half of its GDP. If migrant men decide to divorce their wives back home, some do so via cell phone by texting the word "talaaq," Arabic for "divorce." In Sunni Islam, saying the word three times is a recognized way for men to end their marriages.
Migrant Tajiks are largely beyond the reach of their country's laws. Neither text messages nor "talaaq" are legal methods of divorce there (unlike in other countries like Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, where courts have sanctioned the combination), but courts can't enforce this or other divorce proceedings — like alimony payments — on an absent husband.
These Tajik women are often left without homes or means of support when their marriages end. Respite may only come when they are fully integrated into the legal system — to match their immersion in the technology that has already deeply touched their lives.