A burning issue that must be addressed immediately
Pakistan is a country where marriage is considered sacred, due to the religion of choice, which is Islam. Islam teaches Muslims to not opt for the way of divorce and work to rebuild the relation between husband and wife. However, the increasing rate of divorces in Pakistan is an alarming trend.
With every passing day, liberalism and modernism are making great headways and their public acceptance is soaring to unprecedented heights. However, this rise has negatively impacted, like many other fields of human activity, our social values, and one manifestation of it is the high number of divorces per year in Pakistan. Several surveys and independent researchers have found a steep rise in the number of couples coming to courts or using other means to get divorced. According to data, 13,299 Khula cases were reported in the Punjab province in 2012; the number later rose to 14,243 in 2013, and in 2014, it went up to 16,942. In 2016, it soared to 18,901.
A decade ago one out of every thousand Pakistani couples was seeking divorce. However, the figure has gone up 13 times in 2017. And, as per data available, now thirteen out of thousand couples want separation. Divorce rates among people living in cities are far higher than those in people living in rural areas. In Punjab’s capital, Lahore, for instance, 7,525 cases of divorce were filed in 2016, as compared to 5245 in 2015. Faisalabad, now officially the third largest city of Pakistan, registered two thousand couples filing for divorce in 2016, as compared to 900 in 2010. The trend is pretty much similar in other major cities of the country.
The problem of divorce is becoming no less than an epidemic but often we ignore the underlying causes. There are many reasons behind the curse of divorce including, but not limited to, hypersexuality, lack of patience, being away from Islamic teachings, inferiority complex, sharing personal matters with others, lack of understanding and trust, love marriage, financial barriers and disregard for social values. Let’s have a look at them briefly:
The first reason is the hypersexuality that is prevalent in Pakistani youth. In 2017, a survey found Pakistan at 4th place in terms of interest in porn as it revealed that almost 66 percent of boys in Pakistan start watching porn at the age of nine with an average of seven hours a week. In addition, 30 percent boys watch violent porn including, on an average, 19 rapes per week. Shamefully, nearly 1.7 lakh new young men start watching rapes each year. It means by the time they enter the degree course, they would have watched nearly 4900 rapes. Pornography also leads to paedophilia and other unnatural sex addictions.
Some experts opine that the brutality women are subjected to in sexual assault, gives men the false pride that women are at their mercy and hence it further escalates domestic violence which is another leading cause for divorce in our country.
In our society, there is a tradition of forcing women into marriage. As per our cultural norms, a woman is supposed to safeguard her family’s honour at any cost, though it is considered alright for a boy to be in an illicit relationship. But, many girls are forced into marriage so as to minimize the chances of their getting involved in such a relationship. A woman in our flawed social setup is considered a slave having no rights, and she is supposed to serve her masters, that is, men – fathers, brothers, and then husbands after marriage.
The biradri (caste) system is prevalent in Pakistan and most parents force their children to marry someone of the same caste. Endogamous couples – those who marry only within the limits of a caste, clan or tribe – are preferred and the exogamous ones draw the wrath of their parents as well as of the society. Families are broken when such couples are forced to give in and go for a divorce. Exogamy also leads to emotional stress and even honour killings.
The third biggest reason, no doubt, is the benefit-based mindset which stems from the materialistic modern society. The materialistic and capitalist Western ideology endorses the criterion of benefit for every action. Men and women are often known to get married keeping in mind the material benefits they would derive from a marriage. The West offers individual freedom as a progressive basis of life which means that an individual is completely free in deciding how (s)he wants to live his or her life. This is the reason today marriage in Europe is considered a tenuous partnership for sex which is easily dispensed with when the partners get tired or bored of each other. The foisting of Western culture on ours has also resulted in high divorce rates.
Last but not least, one of the reasons that our society faces an increase in divorce rate is that the philosophy of women empowerment is misinterpreted by both men and women. Lack of patience and erosion of each other’s rights lead to divorce. Further, media also shows a botched version of women empowerment which induces women and men to break their relationship.
Experts put down this social change as the main reason for the rising number of divorces. More and more women are now able to live on their own and are now fully aware of their rights. They say career-oriented women are more prone to taking divorce than housewives. They describe forced marriages, lust, infidelity, joint family system, misunderstandings, lack of trust, financial pressures and differences in social status as other reasons for a high divorce rate.
Indian and Western cultural invasion is further aggravating the situation. Women, who watch dramas, movies or advertisements aired by different TV channels, want to buy costly items even if their prices are exuberant; sometimes even at the expense of their marriage.
In the recent past, the word ‘divorce’ was like a taboo in Pakistani society, but now people do not feel anything wrong in getting divorced. This trend should change. The key to a successful and everlasting marriage, and a better family is compromise from both ends. Couples should sort out issues on their own, rather than allowing someone else to interfere with their lives. Inflated egos and obstinacy have never won anyone anything. One has to realize that a husband and wife have certain rights over each other and that human beings are inherently flawed and are prone to make mistakes. Therefore, try to rectify the mistake rather than the person.