Divorces rising to record high in Jordan
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.