Alarmingly High Divorce Rate in Pakistan: An Issue to Ponder Upon

By Maria Khan.

In societies like Pakistan, the word ‘divorce’ which was once considered synonymous with shame for a lifetime is somehow becoming the trend. Changing patterns of society have caused a drastic change in lifestyle and belief system of Pakistani people. Now days, divorce is being considered as a ‘best’ and most frequently used option to get rid of unwanted marital relationship and most of the times there is no logical reason behind the whole phenomenon. Gone are the days when parents used to advice their daughters at their Rukhsati that ‘Ab susraal se tumhara janaza he wapis aaye ga’ and the daughters used to stick this piece of advice in their hearts and acted upon this advice till their last breath whatever the circumstances may develop. Now this concept is changing. Not only the marital relationship is being terminated by the men but the Pakistani women too are now frequently exercising their right of ‘Khula’ to end the relationship. The eye opening statistics of the office record of the Chairman Arbitration Council Islamabad Urban, which deals only with urban areas of the capital, revealed that only in the year 2013, 450 women got issued certificates of marriage dissolution on the basis of ‘khula’ while another 213 were divorced by their husbands, raising the toll to 663.

The situation in the year 2014 was also not different as during the first nine months, 250 women got issued marriage dissolution certificates on the basis of ‘khula’ while 180 male partners opted to break their families. In 2016, the ‘Khula’ cases have climbed to 18,901. This is the sole situation of the Capital we are residing in and due to the proximity factor, we can feel the seriousness of the issue. If we take the case of Lahore, there is no different story just the figures seem to grow as number of people residing in Lahore are double than those residing in the capital. According to the data collected by a renowned publication ‘The News’ from various courts in Lahore states that as many as 12,913 women approached various family courts in Lahore during the first ten months of the year 2014 to seek divorce from their husbands. During the month of September alone, some 2,385 women filed suits, most of them to seek separation. The family courts disposed of 1,972 cases while 11,375 cases were already pending with them.

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Now apart from statistics, there comes a question in every sane mind that what is making this companionship a burdensome responsibility that spouses are unable to take it along and find solace in ending a sacred relationship that is prescribed by the Creator as the best relationship one can ever get in.

If we look into the issue with an empathic approach, we find out a number of factors that are contributing in soaring the divorce rate in Pakistan. Starting off with forced marriages, considered as preservers of ‘izzat’ of elders in the family, mostly end up in divorce either at the part of the girl or the boy. Now to our utmost surprise, not only forced, but love marriages too more often end up in divorce. Yes! According to a report finalized by collecting data from the courts in Gujranwala, a fierce increase has been reported in divorces of love marriages in 2015. Keeping in view the statistics of last year in the district, the family courts have separated as many as 4500 couples out of 5000 applied for divorce among which, more than 3000 have surfaced to be love marriages. This increase is most often an output of ideal, fantasized, impractical and imaginative approach of the couples in love marriage. Being done with love or arranged marriages, we now come to the point of domestic violence. Because we live in a society with prevailing ‘joint family system’ a girl is often surrounded by the cruel ‘Saas and Nannds’! Most of the time, the In-laws provoke the husband to beat his wife over petty issues. As a result what we see is that majority of women free themselves of the abusive life by the option of divorce and if not timely done, they are either being burnt to ashes in name of ‘Choolay ki gas jali reh gaee thee’ or become a victim of domestic violence for a lifetime. Now coming to the most crucial yet a bit unidentified factor in mounting the divorce rate; the media.

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During the years when the ‘Saas Bahu Indian Soaps’ ruled the Pakistani media from February 2005 to January 2008 about 75, 000 divorce cases were registered taking into account the situation of Lahore only. The sole reason behind these figures was the ‘ideal’ model of marital relationship being displayed in the dramas with wife in tones of makeup donned in an amazing Saree and always proving innocent in all the propaganda against her, and husband always showing a caring side. Frustrated after watching these idealized situations, many spouses opted for divorce as their better halves didn’t have that touch of Star Plus’ Saas Bahoo and Saazish in them!

Pakistani Media is now portraying divorce as the ultimate outcome of marriage in many of its dramas. The word ‘Talaq’ is a must have in nearly every drama script and is gradually being incorporated and injected in mind of every person watching it, even the kids in the family, making the most disliked act by the Creator a routine phenomenon and adding on to the number of broken families.

Frustrated, intolerant, self-obsessed, selfish, materialistic, mean and hypocrite are the words that best describe us today. In order to make the beautiful and basic institution of society i.e., family, work, we need to mend our personalities, change ourselves from within and become tolerant, selfless, generous, honest, devoted, responsible and sincere in our marital and overall lives. The media too needs to play its role productively in raising awareness regarding downsides of divorce and making this society a better place to live in.

By Maria Khan

Student of Media and Communication Studies and Lobbyist at Youth Forum for Kashmir. maria.khan51@hotmail.com

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