Sharp rise in GCC divorce rates says study
Dubai, November 9, 2010
Divorce rates in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have risen dramatically in recent years, according to a report.
Statistics show that the total divorce rates have reached 20 per cent (2008) in Saudi Arabia, 24 per cent (2007) in Bahrain, 25.62 per cent (2008) in the UAE, 34.76 per cent (2009) in Qatar and 37.13 per cent (2007) in Kuwait, said the Booz & Company report.
“Statistical data indicates that divorce rates are almost equal to marriage rates within the 20–29 age group, reaching a ceiling in the 30–39 age group, suggesting that young couples are more likely to divorce often in the first years of marriage,” said Dr Mona AlMunajjed, senior advisor with the Ideation Center.
Causes for Divorce
The period since the first discovery of oil 78 years ago has seen an accumulation of vast wealth, industrialisation, accelerated transition from a nomadic to a sedentary and urbanised existence, infrastructure development, the expansion of education, and the appearance of satellite television and the Internet, all of which have contributed to a major transformation of the region that is affecting both societal and personal norms of behaviour. This has caused two divergent forces that run GCC countries: modernization and tradition, Dr AlMunajjed said.
“Unfortunately, evidence suggests that modernisation including urbanisation, could be subverting some of the traditional values and practices that once held families together, and imposing new demands on married couples. At the same time, some long-held traditions and social practices may be undermining marriages in the Gulf’s modernising environment,” said Dr AlMunajjed.
Women’s education and economic participation in the GCC region’s workforce are also among the greatest catalysts of change in Gulf societies. As a result of their advanced education and labour market participation, many women today have a mobility they did not have in the past and greater social, financial and psychological independence. All of these factors combined have resulted in a dramatic increase of divorce rates.
Steps to a resolution
Although divorce can be a good thing in the case of abusive marriages, in general, it can be damaging to the family model and as a result, society at large. Today, there is an increasing awareness in the GCC region of the widespread increase of divorce and its negative effects, she said.
Individual GCC countries have taken various legal and social steps to halt this rise such as considering the implementation of new laws that would prevent husbands from recklessly pronouncing talaq, the words of divorce, and organising programs to promote awareness of divorce’s disruptive impacts.
Women are even more negatively affected by divorce than their male counterparts. Women in GCC countries are still subject to discrimination in divorce cases due to the lack of legal enforcement mechanisms to ensure the implementation of women’s legal rights, the report said.
GCC countries have also started taking some steps to ensure more protection for women in divorces. The recent appointment of female judges and lawyers makes it more likely that the interpretation of family law will give more consideration to women.
In Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar the first female judges in the GCC region have already been appointed. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwaiti are also starting to take various steps to help women by giving them some financial and custody rights, it said. –TradeArabia News Service