Much like divorce rates around the world, according to recent studies, Arab divorce rates throughout the Middle East and North Africa have been increasing in recent years. Many are openly discussing the reasons why.
Riddle of the Sphinx
A study by the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center found that Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar are the four countries in the Arab world with the highest divorce rate, which rose to 48% of all marriages in Kuwait, 40% in Egypt, 37.2% in Jordan and 37% in Qatar.
Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates follow with 34%. A licensed psychologist and family therapist at the American Hospital in Dubai told The Media Line that the majority of people seeking out couples therapy are females who sometimes manage to convince their male partners to join afterward.
“Arab females have gained a lot of self-awareness and are thriving toward their self- actualization, so sometimes these clashes with the Arab image of the woman being a homemaker”.
Mahmood Al Oraibi, an attorney in Bahrain said that many different aspects of the Arab community have changed, and divorce is just one of those changes. Women now are independent, they are educated, they have some power, they have some demands.
The Arab community is still struggling between the past. Women were just housewives, and they handled the needs of the entire family, taking care of their husbands as well as his parents, cousins and their own children. In the modern world there are working women who are independent, and who come home late after spending 8 hours to 10 hours away from home.
I’ve written international divorce rates before. In the United States, many complained that no-fault divorce led to an increase in divorce rates here. Historically in Florida, in order to obtain a divorce one had to prove the existence of legal grounds such as adultery.
Proving fault often required additional expenses on behalf of the aggrieved party, only serving to make the divorce process more expensive and cumbersome than it already was.
In the years leading up to the enactment of “no-fault” divorce, courts often granted divorces on bases that were easier to prove, the most common being “mental cruelty.”
Over time, the “no-fault” movement expanded to other states, although interestingly it only reached the typically progressive state of New York in 2010. Whether or not it is intimacy or communication, you do not need to list a reason for a divorce other than an irretrievable break in the marriage.
Arab World Divorce Rates
An Egyptian sociology teacher living in Kuwait, believes that divorce has increased due to women having the freedom to speak their minds and make their own decisions, unlike in years past.
“Women are educated now and have their own careers, so when they decide to get a divorce, they will not have financial worries since they can now support themselves”.
According to some analysts, the increased divorce rate has also changed women. High levels of divorce have forced women to depend on themselves, which have made women grow stronger and forced men to learn to respect women.
The Arab community is considered very conservative. Pre-marital relations are not permissible socially, religiously – and in some cases – by law. So, people who are newly married get into relationships with no experience. On top of that, the community is very reluctant to sit and talk in a transparent way about all the pros and cons in marriage.
Al Oraibi believes that the best way to lower the divorce rate is for couples to try to interact with each other before marriage, or to take time to get to know each other better after they get married and before having children.
As a lawyer in Bahrain, Al Oraibi explained that divorce is a right for both men and women. Despite that, he noted that men can choose to divorce women without the need for proving justification. Women, on the other hand, have to provide proof of a justification for ending the marriage.
Islamic laws concerning divorce can also differ between the Shia and the Sunni courts. For instance, said Al Oraibi, according to Sunni law, the man has the right to divorce without any witness; while in the Shia court, at least two witnesses are required.
The Media Line article is here.