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18 September, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Divorce cases steadily on rise

MUBTASIM FUAD, Dhaka
Divorce cases steadily on rise

The number of divorce cases have reached a record high in Dhaka this year. About 75 per cent of the divorce applications are filed by women. There are more than 1,000 divorces every month in the capital.

Experts say the number could reach lakhs if proper steps are taken to save marriages. More and more women are now coming out in the open about their marital problems and seeking a solution. In most cases, divorce is the end result, they add.

From January to July in 2018, the number of divorces was 4,574 under the two city corporation areas. But the number has increased to 6,232 in the first six months of this year.

In the last seven months, 3,679 divorce applications have been filed in five zones of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC).

Of these, the number of applicants was 602 in January (212 men and 400 women), 501 in February (151 men and 350 women ), 226 in March  (87 men and 139 women), 638 in April (239 men and 399 women), 820 in May (302 men and 518 women), 304 in June (128 men and 176 women) and 588 in July (137 men and 451 women). Also, 2,553 divorce applications have been filed in seven zones of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) in the last six months.

Of these, the number of applicants was 447 in January (185 men and 262 women), 325 in February (109 men and 216 women), 246 in March (88 men and 158 woemn), 385 in April (177 men and 208 women), 269 in May (71 men and 198 women), 372 in June (106 men and 266 women) and 509 in July (185 men and 324 women).

Around 67 per cent of the divorce notices issued from 2011 to 2016 were by women.

In all five zones under DNCC and DSCC, 28,355 divorce notices were issued in 2011-2016, 14,966 of which were filed by women. Nearly seven out of 10 such notices that the two city corporations received came from wives. In some cases, couples refrained from divorcing each other even after filing notices, but that number was not significant.  

According to the state-run Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), some of the most common reasons behind decisions of separation and divorce stem from the inability to maintain a conjugal life, failure in providing subsistence, immoral practices, incurable diseases, physical assault, dowry, premature marriage, infertility and polygamy.

In the past, most women, both in urban and rural areas, preferred to stay put in unhappy marriages. But the situation has been changing in recent times. According to a 2018 study by BBS, the number of applications for divorce has increased by 34 per cent in the past seven years, and in most cases applicants are women, especially in cities. In Dhaka, about 50,000 divorce applications were filed in the past six years. Talking with The Independent, Dr Nehal Karim, chairperson of the sociology department of Dhaka University, said women became more liberalised. “Those days are well gone when a married woman would keep mum because of the fear of society,” he added.

“Education and social changes have helped women, who have now their own voices and independence. So, they are now ready to come out of any toxic relationship,” he said.

Dr Nehal Karim did not see the increase in the rate of divorce as anything negative.  “It’s hard to call this a negative development as it is actually better to get out of an unhealthy relationship than to carry it on.”

Md Mozammel haque, a marriage registrar of the Pallabi Kazi Office, said the number of divorce incidents had been incerasing over the last few years. “On average, I get 10 cases of divorce a month. It was only five a few years ago,” he added. He also said young people's exposure to the virtual world, involvement in ill-planned emotional relationships, and extra-marital affairs contributed to the rise in the divorce rate.

The marriage registrar said it was the wives who sought divorce in seven out of 10 cases. “But it doesn’t mean women are more likely to divorce. In many of these cases, husbands told their wives to take the first move for different strategic reasons.” Salma Khanom, a 28-year-old housemaid, divorced her husband just two days after their marriage. Salma did not think twice before giving divorce to her husband because she had learned that her husband had married her with false identity.

“He said that he is the owner of a furniture shop. Later, I came to know that he was actually a salesman of that furniture shop. I could not accept this cheating, so I divorced him", said Salma, who is working as housekeeper at a city house in Rupnagar.

“It’s better to live alone than living with a deceiver”, Salma added. It was when Meherunnesa got a job that she realised her marriage “was not normal”. None of her female colleagues seemed to have husbands who checked to see what they were up to ten times a day or who objected if they went out for coffee after work. She told her husband she wanted a divorce. “I realised I didn’t have to put up with it,” she said.

In 1974, women were just 4 per cent of the labour force. In 2016, they comprise 36 per cent of the workers. Much of this is down to the booming garment industry, which employs mostly women. Earning a salary makes leaving a bad marriage financially possible.

Dr Sadeqa Haleem, dean of the the Faculty of Sociology, also agrees with Dr Nehal Karim’s view.  She told The Independent that even parents, who earlier used to posses anachronistic views, now have changed their stance on divorce. “Now, we observe that many of the parents tell their children to get out of failed marriages."

She said women empowerment had obviously played its part in making women more independent and confident in taking decisions about their own lives.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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