August 13, 2017

Divorces rising to record high in Jordan

Difficult way out. The Sharia Court in Amman where most divorce cases are pronounced. (Roufan Nahhas)

Amman - Rula, now 23, lived a love story that led to marriage with the usual vows to love and cherish each other for life, build a family and grow old together. The couple’s happiness together was short-lived, however. They di­vorced one year later, joining the growing number of divorced people in Jordan.
The number of divorces in Jordan has rocketed with about 22,000 cas­es registered in 2016, up from 1,000 in 2011, a record high, Jordan’s De­partment of Statistics (DoS) said.
Being labelled as a divorcee or a single mother in a patriarchal and conservative society, such as Jor­dan’s and many other Arab coun­tries’, is a heavy burden. Despite being alienated, many women, in­cluding Rula, eventually appreciate their freedom over staying in an un­happy marriage.
“First, I could not face the fact that I am divorced and I had very sad moments when I regretted even having met him (her former hus­band) but it happened and I could not live with him anymore because he became a different person, a stranger and a monster with an ap­petite to control,” Rula said.
“I knew how our society thinks and I did not care but I suffered and still suffer from the way people around me looked at me.”
DoS figures indicated that wom­en aged 21-25 had the highest num­ber of divorces in 2016 in Jordan with 6,213 cases, followed by ages 30-40 with 4,970 cases and 3,584 for women aged 26-29. DoS statis­tics also showed that one out of four marriages broke up after one year in 2015.
“Of course, we have a big problem in the marriage institution starting with choosing the wrong partner and basing your life on dreams and illusions. Couples need to be real­istic and aware that life is not easy and that joining two different peo­ple under one roof has its implica­tions,” said Lubna Tawil, a lawyer.
“As long as the couples under­stand their duties towards building a family then everything can work smoothly; each has his/her respon­sibilities and it is common knowl­edge now that life is becoming re­ally hard and both should work to secure a good living for themselves and their kids, which means shar­ing duties and work at home as well… Problems start when there is no understanding of shared respon­sibilities,” she added.
Bad financial situations, physi­cal and verbal abuse, extramarital affairs, extended family [members] meddling in the couple’s lives and incompatibility are among the com­mon causes cited for divorce in Jor­dan, as they tend to be elsewhere.
“In one case, a man divorced his wife during Ramadan be­cause he simply did not like what she cooked. In another a woman asked for divorce after discovering that her husband is very active on Facebook with his female friends,” Tawil said.
Incompatibly and different inter­ests between couples can be a seri­ous problem, divorced business­man Ammar Sanoqrot points out.
“I found it hard to have a clever conversation with my ex-wife as her knowledge about certain things that interest me was almost zero. I could not believe that underneath this beauty there is someone who only cares about spending money and going out,” he said.
“Problems started to appear and got worse. So, we decided that di­vorce was the only solution and thank God we ended everything before having any children,” the 38-year-old added.
Marriage counselling is not com­mon in Jordan as families tend to intervene to try to mend fences
Mohammad, a pseudonym as he did not want his real name used, said he paid a heavy price for his tumultuous divorce.
“The court decided that I can see my son at the police station, so you can imagine the impact of this on a 6-year-old kid. I had to comply for years to such a condition because my ex-wife wanted to take revenge after divorce,” said Mohammad, who has married again and has ad­ditional children.
While divorce cases increased, there were more weddings as well. In 2016, there were 82,000 mar­riages in Jordan up from 65,000 in 2011.