Divorce doubles, separation triples in one decade

Notices in Dhaka mostly come from women

The rate of people getting divorced and living separately from their spouses almost doubled over the last decade, revealed a recent Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) report.

Marriage registrars, psychologists and gender experts noted loss of family bonds and values, polygamy and extra-marital affairs, virtual world, and economically empowered women opting out of marriages following mental and physical torture as reasons for increasing divorces and separations.

In 2006, the crude rate of divorce was 0.6 per one thousand of the population and this increased to 1.1 in 2016 while the rate of separations also rose to 0.6 from 0.2 during the same period.

The report finds that the educational level of women appear to be associated with the crude divorce rate.    

It showed that the rate of crude divorce was highest for those having attained at least a secondary level of education, with the figure standing at 1.7 per one thousand. Those with no education had a rate of divorce of 0.5.

In rural areas, the divorce rate was 1.3 per thousand. In urban areas it was 0.8.

According to the report, Rajshahi division had the highest rate of divorce, 1.9 per thousand, followed by Khulna, 1.3.

The incidents of divorce were highest in the 25-29 age group, 2.7.

In Dhaka city, a fragment of the divorcees actually pre-notify the two city corporations prior to taking the recourse. The records of the two city corporations show that 5,353 people submitted such notices in 2012 while the number rose to 7,458 last year.

Nearly seven out of 10 such notices that the two city corporations received came from the wives. In some cases, couples refrained from divorcing each other even after filing notices but that number was not significant.  

According to the BBS, some of the most common reasons behind decisions of separation and divorce stem from an inability to maintaining a conjugal life, failure in providing subsistence, immoral practices, incurable diseases, physical assault, dowry, premature marriage, infertility and polygamy.

Md Mamunur Rashid Khan, a marriage registrar of the city's Kulutola Kazi Office, told The Daily Star that the number of divorce incidents increased over the last few years.

"On an average, I get 10 cases of divorces a month whereas it was only five a few years ago," said Rashid, also the senior joint secretary of Bangladesh Muslim Marriage Registrars Association.

He said young peoples' exposure to the virtual world, involvement in ill-planned emotional relationships, and extra-marital affairs contributed to the rise in the incidents of divorce these days.

The marriage registrar said in seven out of 10 cases, it was the wives who sought divorce. "But it doesn't mean women are more likely to divorce as I have noticed in many of these cases that actually the husbands made the wives take the first move for different strategic reasons."

Eminent psychologist Farida Akhtar told The Daily Star there were many dimensions to men-women marital relationship and for different reasons the relationship could get strenuous.

"Today's women are more conscious about their rights. Every modern woman likes to see her life become meaningful. If any relationship (marriage in this case) becomes a roadblock in achieving her life's dream, she may choose to break free," explained Farida.

She said differences in men-women pre-marriage and post-marriage understanding, doubts over spouse's friendship with other men/women, drug addiction, deceptions, impotence and impact of overall societal unrest were also being translated into increased number of divorces these days.

Tania Haque teaches Women and Gender Studies at Dhaka University. She told The Daily Star that women's entry into the job market gave them confidence, financial freedom and more decision-making power and in certain cases it became possible for them to not tolerate subjugation from their male counterparts.

The DU associate professor believes that many, influenced by the virtual world, tend to live in fantasies. They disengage from their surroundings and eventually go for breakups on flimsy grounds.

"We're seeing erosion of familial commitment, values and many even can't afford spending quality family-time because of too much work in a fast-moving world."


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