DUBAI // Finding a husband is much more difficult when you have diabetes, say single Emirati women suffering from the disease.
The stigma attached to diabetes and fears of its effect on reproduction leads to rejection, they say.
“Between me and my two sisters, I tend to be disregarded as a candidate wife because I am diabetic,” said Aisha Al Qaissieh, 25, an Emirati with Type-1 diabetes who writes a blog about her experiences.
“I see how eager they seem regarding marriage right before they find out I’m diabetic.
“After they know, they will outright state a rejection or just tiptoe the other way until they disappear.”
Mariam A H, an Emirati matchmaker, confirmed the tendency for men to refuse to marry a woman with a health condition.
“In general they don’t accept a woman with diabetes as [they think] it’s genetic,” Mariam said.
“In my experience, men who find out during the engagement that their wife-to-be is diabetic usually break it off. They don’t want to deal with a lifestyle of hospital visits as they view it as a hassle.”
Men with diabetes seem less concerned about the condition affecting their prospects than women.
The Emirati Tareq Al Qubali, 34, found out about his Type-2 diabetes after he was wed but said he did not think it created any problem.
“I was already married at the time,” he said. “Even if I wasn’t, I would not see that as a cause of concern.”
R W S, 28, a Palestinian doctor who has Type-1 diabetes, said the illness affects men’s fertility more than that of women.
“Getting pregnant while diabetic shouldn’t be an issue for females but diabetes in males can cause infertility,” she said. “Of course, it depends on many factors, such as how long he had diabetes and which type.”
The doctor, who is single, said she worried about the future even though she knew there were preventive measures to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
“Diabetics can create a risk of having abnormal babies in terms of neural-tube defect, but that can be avoided by having the sufficient amount of folic acid [and controlling your insulin levels],” she said.
Jamal Salem, 30, an Emirati, admits he would not easily say yes to a prospective wife with diabetes.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t voluntarily go for a woman with diabetes,” Mr Salem said. “But if I found out that happens to be the case, I would not accept or reject her until I was sure of the consequences … whether it would affect her abilities to be responsible for a family or not.”
But M S, 29, a Palestinian, said: “If I dated the person for a while before we got married and loved her enough to marry her, then I’d love her enough to take care of her whether she is diabetic or not.
“But if it was an arranged marriage I’d probably look for someone healthier.”
Alaa Elhag, 27, a Sudanese woman with Type-1 diabetes, would like to see support groups for diabetics to help to erase some of the misconceptions.
“My fiance once expressed concerns about the fact that I’m diabetic,” Ms Elhag said. “That was the reason why he keep postponing the wedding discussions.
“Even though his family clearly said they didn’t have a problem with it, he was worried about future responsibilities if any complications might come up.
“Diabetics need to be in touch with each other and be more confident about their condition. We function like normal women. We can be good wives and produce healthy children.”
Fatma Salim, 29, said her decision to marry a diabetic man would depend on the severity of the condition.
“I have my children to think about,” the Emirati said. “But then again, I’d put myself in his shoes: having been rejected, or even thinking how it would feel if my brother [God forbid] was being constantly rejected because of his diabetic condition. I’d have to weigh it all and decide.”
The matchmaker Mariam added: “Where there is love and morals, it will break any barrier a disease may cause.”