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| 19 October, 2017

Saudi divorce rates rise by 50%

Saudi divorce rates rise by 50%
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Counsellors cite a variety of reasons for this including parental inference and the prevalence of social media

Jeddah - The number of divorce cases in Saudi Arabia has exponentially increased in recent years.

According to Saudi Open Data, 35,000 divorce cases were reported in 2015, and 40,000 in 2016.

Experts believe that divorce rates have gone up by around 50 per cent this year from last year.

According to the General Authority of Statistics, currently one in five marriages end in divorce.

On an average around 127 divorce cases take place in a day.

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Rola Ashour, a licensed mental health practitioner and a family counsellor, believes that parents are one of the main causes of divorce between couples.

“I have so many cases where the husband’s mother pulls the string in the marriage,” she said, adding that husbands rarely stands up to their mothers.

According to judicial sources, around 80 per cent cite social media or family interference as causes for their break ups.

In one case, a Saudi mother took notes on when her daughter-in-law came and left the house.

She would then relate the information to her son and provoke him to confront his wife about it, Ashour said.

Young men and women have also been forced into marriages of convenience as parents want their children to marry into their tribe or caste.

One counsellor who did not want to be named said that many times the focus is on the parent’s desires rather than the happiness of their children. Social media is another driving force dividing couples.

In a recent report by Okaz, a man filed for divorce the morning after the wedding. He said that on their wedding night, his bride was busy answering congratulatory messages and sending pictures of their wedding to her friends on WhatsApp. His numerous attempts in getting her attention failed after which, he decided to part ways.

“Social media is hindering relationships because it is very easy to be on the phone instead of talking. Now a days, in bed your phone is often your partner, not your husband,” said Ashour.

Another issue that counsellors bring up is the issue of intimacy.

Many young couples, especially women, have not been intimate before marriage and have not even had the proper education or discussion about the subject.

“One of my clients would have panic attacks whenever her husband approached her,” Ashour said.

Proper education is needed to prepare young couples for sexual relations, she said.

Last but not least, Ashour cites exorbitant dowries demanded by women as another main source of tension in marriages.

“Many women are not willing to make any adjustments,” she said.

The men are forced to take out loans to pay for lavish wedding ceremonies and then maintain a lavish lifestyles where the man ends up accruing debt.

Ashour advises all her clients to maintain respect for one another, to be giving, and to compromise.

“If one party is upset, its important the other maintains calm and vice versa,” she said.

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