SMS turns home wrecker

The popularity of text messaging via mobile phones has just turned nasty. The Dubai courts today validated the first divorce case to occur via SMS.

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By  Rania Adwan Published  June 25, 2001

The Dubai courts today registered the first ever divorce to come about by text message via a mobile phone. A 28 year-old man sent a SMS message on Saturday evening to his wife saying, “Why are you late? You are divorced.”

“We have asked the opinion of scholars from the Dubai Awfaq and Islamic affairs department, Arabic and Islamic Studies College in Dubai and others in Saudi Arabia,” declared Abdul Salam Darwish, an advisor at the Family Reconciliation section of the Dubai Courts. “All have said that the divorce is valid as the husband expressed the will to divorce and the wife received it.”

Darwish went on to emphasise the sanctity of marriage and the seriousness of divorce. “Even if a husband were to send his wife a message as a joke, telling her she was divorced, it would be legitimate in the eyes of the Law.” He continued to explain that four conditions must be filled for an electronically communicated divorce to be valid. The first is that the sender should be the husband. As the sender, he has expressed a will to divorce and thus fulfilling the second condition. The third is that the statement made be clear and concise and finally that the wife should receive the sent message.

So far a total of 15 cases have been reported and registered by the court, mostly by national couples, although a few have been brought forward by Arab couples. But none have been as straightforward; instead the situations have involved third party messengers. In a recent article, the Gulf News reported an occasion where a husband had checked his wife’s ‘inbox’ only to find improper messages sent to her from her boss. Another report showed how a woman discovered her husband’s second marriage by reading a text message sent from his second wife.

“The way people are misusing technology is wrong,” continued Darwish. “Sending immoral phrases and using the service to intentionally spoil a family relationship is no way to conduct yourself. It’s a sad state of affairs that leads us to mobile phone divorces.”

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