This case of Moroccan Achraf Hakimi Mouh and his ex-wife, Spanish actress Hiba Abouk, gave new meaning to the global divorce epidemic and its attendant crises in divorce property settlement. Hakimi is reportedly the sixth-highest-paid athlete in Africa, and his enormous popularity has followed him around like a lapel ever since he guided his native Morocco to the 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinals.
First Mag, a French magazine, had reported that Hiba had asked for half of Hakimi’s assets and money in her claim following the court’s grant of the divorce. According to the magazine, the actress was astonished to learn from her lawyer that Hakimi literally had nothing to his name because his cherished mother, Saida Mouh, was the recipient of his salary and fortune for a number of years. The story spread quickly throughout Spain, France, Morocco, and the rest of the world.
Hiba is of Tunisian and Libyan ancestry. She was born in Madrid as the youngest of four siblings and goes by the full name Hiba Aboukhris Benslimane. Her parents had previously made their home in Spain after leaving Tunisia. Hiba completed her studies at the French Lycée in Madrid at the age of 18. She then took Arabic philology studies, eventually earning a licentiate in theater.Hiba is of Tunisian and Libyan ancestry. She was born in Madrid as the youngest of four siblings and goes by the full name Hiba Aboukhris Benslimane. Her parents had previously made their home in Spain after leaving Tunisia. Hiba completed her studies at the French Lycée in Madrid at the age of 18. She then took Arabic philology studies, eventually earning a licentiate in theater.
Her husband plays football professionally for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain. He was born in Morocco in 1998. His friendship with Kylian Mbappe is well known, and his divorce with Hiba is said to have been very complicated.
The actress gave hints that the couple’s marriage had struck a rough patch when, on March 27, 2023, she posted on her Instagram account that she and Hakimi had split and were awaiting the court’s decision on their divorce. Amn, 3, and Naim, 1, the couple’s two kids, were born in the years 2020 and 2022. Before the divorce, there was concern that Hakimi’s inquiry into the rape claim in Paris had sparked it.A Paris investigating judge issued Hakimi’s indictment on March 3, 2023, and put him under judicial watch due to the ongoing rape allegation he was embroiled in. In his Boulogne house, Hakimi was accused of raping a 24-year-old woman while his wife and children were away on vacation. The well-known tabloid Le Parisien published the news of the alleged rape, which allegedly occurred on the Sunday night of February 26. The procedures continued despite the vehement denial of the accusation by his attorney, Fanny Colin. The claims are baseless, Colin reportedly told Le Parisien in response. He is remaining composed and offering himself to the police. A prohibition against Hakimi ever getting in touch with the victim of his alleged spree of rape was part of the court processes. Nonetheless, the court gave him permission to leave French territory.
Hakimi and Hiba’s divorce proceedings were made public last week, showing that the pair had been attempting to end their marriage legally long before the allegation of rape surfaced. When Hiba removed Hashimi’s and her own photos from her Instagram page shortly after the Moroccan international became involved in the February rape case, suspicions quickly spread. According to what was known about Hiba, she was wealthy and likely concocted the claim to exact revenge on her allegedly unfaithful spouse.
Compared to her spouse, Hadi is reportedly worth $2 million, while Hakimi’s net worth is $24 million, with his mother owning 80% of it. She is alleged to be in charge of all of Hakimi’s purchases, including the clothes, jewels, and cars. According to reports, Hakimi earns $1 million a month from PSG, along with Lionel Messi and Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. The 20% of his salary that he retains is likewise estimated to be somewhere about $215 each week. The Moroccan defender’s wife would have received a staggering sum of $8.5 million granted to her had her divorce claims been successful.
Although it was not a problem when they were married, it was claimed that one of the factors that led to the shift towards divorce was the African conservative disdain for a wife who was older than the husband. There is a sizable age difference between the two. Hiba is 36 years old, a full 12 years older than Hakimi, who is 24. Hiba claimed in an interview with El Cierre Digital in March that she chose Hakimi because she wanted a family life with her husband and kids, but she later learned that Hakimi preferred the sybarite lifestyle of partying and enjoying the wild bachelor lifestyle.
Hiba defended her silence on the rape matter in a message she sent on March 27 via her official Instagram account, but she reiterated her divorce preparations. She was quoted as saying in the Spanish newspaper El Pais: “After having decided to legally separate and stop living together while awaiting the divorce procedure, which you can imagine, on top of the pain caused by the separation and having to accept the sadness that a failed project, to which I gave my body and soul, brings, was supposed to face up to this disgraceful act? It took me some time to process this shock. Given the seriousness of the charge, one must have faith in the legal system. Yet, I have always been and always will be on the side of the victim in my life.
People from all walks of life have taken sides for and against Hadi and Hakimi since the specifics of the divorce property split in the procedures were made public. One of the concerns that arises when a legal action is taken to dissolve a marriage is how the property that was amassed throughout the marriage must be divided between the two parties .While most of Africa, where patriarchy is prevalent and a key legacy of centuries-old traditional African practices, does not practice this, in many other civilized nations, the sharing is based on a marriage property structure. This relies on the specific system the partners decided upon before starting their marriage.
For a variety of reasons, the traditional African system is in favor of divorce among women. Indigenous Marriage Institutions and Divorce in Nigeria, by Ezinna E. Enwereji of the Department of Medicine at Abia State University, Uturu.In the case of Abia State in Nigeria, these factors were listed as “infidelity, infertility/barrenness impotence, probing a husband’s sexual life, inability to reproduce male children and/or a large number of children, laziness in fulfilling assigned gender roles, including farming, cooking late and/or being unable to prepare delicious food, disrespect for the husband and his kinsmen, deviant behaviors like stealing, prostitution, witchcraft, fighting, especially in public,
Despite the fact that divorces were frowned upon in Africa, whenever one took place prior to the arrival of the British, the wives lost everything, including the right to custody of the children from the marriage. In some African cultures, it was even frowned upon for a wife to inquire of her husband about his extramarital affairs, even if she caught him in the act. She might get divorced for her arrogance if she does. In the event that such a husband divorces his wife, he will give her back to her parents and divest her of any assets she may have accumulated over the marriage or even those they both worked hard to earn. The bride price he paid will then be sought back from him.
It makes no difference who started the divorce. When the bride price is paid back, it signifies that the marriage has ended. The court will maintain that the bride price or dowry return ends all events of a customary law marriage, not a court order dissolving such marriage, even in cases where a marriage is dissolved by the customary court’s ruling. Without a subsequent order directing the return or acceptance of the bride price or dowry, any decree ending a customary law marriage is useless. The lady who is thusly divorced experiences financial difficulty, from which most never fully recover.
While the customary law of marriage pretends that there is a settlement of property in it, it is applicable in theory only as an available relief while, in practice, it is non-existent. Among the Igbo, for instance, wives are still viewed traditionally as one of the chattels and property or possession of the husband and thus, whatever she must have acquired while under the roof of the man, stricto sensu, is the man’s. In such a case, it is always very difficult to ascertain what property belongs to the woman upon divorce. Even when assets are singly or jointly acquired, they can only be ceded or parts are given to the woman upon the “magnanimity” of the man. Thus, in settlement of property under customary law, it becomes a discretionary relief for the man to grant his exiting spouse settlement of the property.
The above must be the reason many men, including Hakimi’s countrymen and women, were fuming at what they considered Hadi’s “legal ploy” to take half of her husband’s wealth upon the dissolution of the marriage and their excitedness that Hakimi “outsmarted” the actress.
However, many jurisdictions are conforming to the advocacies of feminist activists who have argued that such a system was too punitive against the woman and should be reversed. One of the countries that has tinkered with its own divorce property system is South Africa. There, the legal system is based on the inherited colonialists’ model and codified in the Matrimonial Property Act 88 of 1984. It controls the property-sharing model. This act spells out the different matrimonial property systems which are available to couples in the country, depending on the type of marriages or unions that they choose to bind them legally, from civil, customary marriages and civil unions.
In the civil matrimonial property system of South Africa, there exist three main matrimonial property sub-systems. They are, out-of-community of property and in-community of property. The last is what is called the accrual system. In the out-of-community property system, if a divorce proceeding is instituted, the property in the marriage is very easy to share and the marriage easier to dissolve because each of the party owns its own estate and their individual assets and liabilities, from the beginning of the marriage, have been known and delineated by the two of them as held separately.
In the in-community property system, the estates of the spouses are merged to become a single joint estate during the pendency of the marriage and thus, the husband and wife, during divorce proceedings, are forced by law to share all their assets and liabilities. In this system, when the dissolution of the marriage is effected, the court will pay all their liabilities and the balance of this joint estate will be divided in equal measure between the spouses.
If the spouses got married through the accrual system, as their estates multiply during the marriage, they will equally share them but retain their individual estates. Whatever the accrual from these estates will go into their individual separate estate. Another feature of this system is that spouses cannot be held liable for debts incurred and during divorce proceedings, this sharing method automatically governs the dissolution of the marriage and the asset-sharing system.
The Nigerian matrimonial divorce systems under the Act and Customary Law are both clones of the old traditional practice that sees women as chattels and undeserving of partaking in the property of their spouses, upon dissolution of marriage. It is why Nigerian men have been most vociferous in the celebration of the “feat” of Hakimi. There is no doubting the fact that the ordinary rules of property law which are applied in the determination of the property rights of spouses in Nigeria have wrought financial hardship on women who are seen as weaker vessels. It should be known however that while men are perceived as the ones who go out to provide for the home, no financial or material wealth can surpass the glue and hold that women provide for the family.
While the Hakimi case will look as if he was a smart alec, there are some pivotal issues that favour him against Hadi. One is that, the marriage was only three years old. Thus, if the request of the Libyan-born actress had been granted, she would have reaped from where she didn’t sow because the footballer must have been amassing his wealth before their marriage. The second issue, which would have availed that marriage, is the benefit of conciliation which Africa usually witnesses in matrimonial disputes but which, I guess, was not available to the ex-spouses due to the nature of the individuality of the West. Now that potential wives have seen the Hakimi case, subsequent men who try to be smart like Hakimi may not be lucky as potential wives will most certainly begin to poke their noses, with audacious scrutiny, into the process and procedure of the wealth of their future husbands.
All things considered, the Nigerian property-sharing arrangement for divorce is abhorrent to natural justice because of how it treats women. The matrimonial property rights agreement between spouses that is in place in Nigeria right now has to be reconsidered immediately. This essay advocates for a reassessment of Nigeria’s primary matrimonial statute, the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1970. This should be done with the intention of making the concept of a fair and equal division of “matrimonial property” applicable and operative both during the important phases of marriage and divorce in Nigeria.
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