Marriage & Family
Marriage is a sacred bond that unites two people. In our social context, marriages are not only seen as the union of two individuals but as a way to unite two families. A man and a woman tie the knot of marriage and promise each other to spend their lives together no matter what the circumstances are. The crucial time, however, begins when this knot loosens up for any reason and end leads to the unpleasant alternative of divorce.
Divorce in the realm of Pakistani society
Pakistan has witnessed a rapidly increasing divorce rate in the last two decades. This increment has mostly been observed in the lower and middle classes, with financial instabilities and lack of patience being the most commonly cited factors behind the couples going their separate ways. Psychologists and divorce lawyers consider the main reason for rising divorce rates as the transformations our social fabric has witnessed in recent times.
No matter what the reason, divorce has always been considered a taboo in Pakistani society but the latest trends suggest otherwise. From 2005 to 2008, almost 75,000 cases were registered in Karachi’s family courts, while the period between 2008 and 2011 saw 124,141 divorce cases getting filed. In 2010 alone, 40,410 separation cases were registered in the city’s family courts. As alarming as this rate is, it is safe to assume that the number will be even bigger in the year 2012.
How divorce impacts Pakistani women
Divorce has a far reaching and long lasting effect on the lives of both men and women in the Pakistani society. When it comes to the women in Pakistan, they have greater awareness of their rights, are more educated and enjoy greater financial independence than they used to do up until a couple of decades ago. Although there is little evidence to support this theory, but many experts believe that women’s growing inclination towards their careers instead of their domestic life is a leading cause of divorce.
At the same time, however, it cannot be denied that separation or divorce is very disturbing for any Pakistani woman. For many women, the end of their marriages becomes the beginning of their mistrust in the opposite gender as they see their marriages falling apart due to the betrayal of their spouses.
Challenges associated with divorce are compounded due to the financial dilemma Pakistani women typically face. If a woman is not stable on her own, she has to find a way of earning income for herself and for her children especially since in our society, there is no obligation on the man to pay alimony or child support. In addition to that, the concept of a woman living on her own is still alien in our social setup. For this reason, if a woman gets divorced, she has no choice but to move back to her parents’ place and be treated as a burden on them.
The stress of coping with the skepticism coming from people around them is another long story. Divorced women are inevitably regarded as individuals who are eyed with either scorn or pity. When a marriage falls apart, it becomes a perpetually stressful cycle for women who have to deal with this emotional turmoil while balancing their priorities between children, attaining financial stability and making efforts to rebuild their lives. The onset of so many kinds of stresses and the lack of an outlet to vent their frustration often take their toll on women’s health and consequently, they suffer from different psychological issues such as depression, insomnia, heart disease and loss of appetite.
Being adults, it is easier for men and women to understand the harsh realities surrounding divorce. The same, however, cannot be said about children who have to face long term consequences of the decision taken by their parents. In most divorce cases in Pakistan, it is the mother who is given the custody of children, especially if they are younger in age. The process to acquire the custody of children, the legal battles involved, raising children as a single parent and making them understand the reason for the upheaval that occurred in their lives is a complex situation in itself and women have to deal with it while keeping their own sanity intact.
With divorce being an enormous challenge for any woman to cope with, it becomes imperative for her loved ones to show her unrelenting support and help her get back on her feet.