Divorce is a human right, too.
It’s amazing how much Muslim cultures pride themselves for being anti-divorce and for having supposedly “low rates” of divorce. They tell you it is the case because “we know the value of family and family life”. In reality, it is the case only because of how stigmatized divorce is – and needless to say, the consequences a woman suffers for it very much supersede any consequences that a man may suffer. In my society, a woman who gets divorced is treated like an “untouchable”. Her “market value” in the marriage market goes down because of having “lost her virginity”. And the man is almost always absolved of any blame. Then again, in a world where women are blamed for causing earthquakes by “exposing too much skin”, it should not be a surprise that all blame for the divorce usually lies on the woman.
So what is it exactly that everyone seems to take pride in? The fact that women have little to no agency when it comes to marriage or divorce? The fact that many women decide to settle for an abusive husband and abusive in-laws because she is afraid of the consequences she may face for freeing herself? If the pride of the culture is built on the suffering of women then to hell with that. And while the woman has little to no agency when it comes to divorce, a man can simply say “I give you divorce” three times, and he is done. Is that what the family-values-morons take pride in?
As far as “lower rates” of divorce go, we will never know exactly how accurate that is because a)there is no data-set and b) divorces are often completely hidden when they happen. And no blame on the parties hiding their divorce – because that may be their only way to not be ostracized by the society. It’s as though people have to live a lie, people have to constantly accept pain and hurt and disaster in order to be accepted by the society that prides itself so much for having “family values”. Oh well.
In the last few years, the divorce rates in Pakistan (my home country) are known to have increased. Since I could not find proper statistics on it, I am not sure how much the increase has been. However, my own personal keen observation tells me that divorce is becoming more and more common over there. And here is what one of the writers from Pakistan named Nayyab Sarhandi believes to be the cause of “higher” divorce rates in Pakistan: “The most important factor which is contributing in high rate of divorce in Pakistan is financial independence of women, lack of compromise from both sides and intolerant attitude. Women are acquiring higher education and contributing their due share in every sector of society and they are not a burden anymore. Working women who are financially strong are less willing to work on their marriages and can quickly opt for divorce. When a woman is financially strong she doesn’t feel the need to compromise on worst marital relationship.” So basically Sarhandi here is suggesting that the financial empowerment of women leads to unstable families and divorce. Well, if such is really the case then “God” bless such divorces. 🙂 And for those who are curious, the rest of Sarhandi’s article can be found here: http://nayyab.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/pakistan-divorce-rate-increasing-why/