Marital breakup was once thought to be an ailment of industrial and capitalist societies in the Western world. A horrendous picture of talak or divorce as presented by a leading Bangla contemporary may make people believe that this country is catching up with Western societies or even has caught up with those. If the rest of the country lags far behind, urban centres like Dhaka City, Chattogram and Sylhet seem to have outdone some of the western countries in this dismal conjugal relationship. As many as 39 divorces taking place in the capital every day or one divorce in every 37 minutes in the five months from June beats one's wildest imagination. The figure for November was not available and the suspicion is it will be no fewer than the five-month average. Chattogram follows with 18 divorces a day. But it is Sylhet where submission of divorce appeal has gone up 10 times higher in the first 10 months of this year. Other big cities are hardly unlikely to be different.
Notably, in the first month of the general holiday in Dhaka, March that is, not a single divorce notice was submitted and in April too, the number was very low but June saw an increase in the number of such notices. In March, the extraordinary shock may have proved baffling and people mostly confined themselves to their homes but the ugly symptom started exposing its raw laceration in April and by June things went berserk with conjugal lives of many crossing the threshold of tolerance on to the rock. Between June and October, 5,970 divorces were completed. In a city of 18 million, divorce had been already high before the pandemic. In 2019, the number of divorces was 920 each month during the five months under review as against 1,194 ---an increase of 29.78 per cent. In England and Wales the increase in divorce is 18.4 per cent this year.
So one thing becomes quite clear, couples already suffering strained relations found this pandemic either more oppressive or used it as an excuse for getting rid of the intolerable life partner. This increasing trend of breakup of marriage certainly corresponds to a higher incidence of domestic violence reported both in countries like Bangladesh and in cosmopolitan and advanced societies like that of London and Paris. Certainly one of the reasons is financial constraints triggered by the pandemic-induced lockdown. For some spending time with a dominant partner who is also oppressive, was simply impossible. As high as 70 per cent divorce petitions were filed by women. This further highlights male domination and at the same time a positive trend in that women receive support from their parents' families and the negation of the stigma attached to women divorcees.
Yet, a breakup of a family has many other implications for people other than the couples involved. The greatest casualty of a broken family are children, if any, whether mere babies or grown-up ones. If both partners are in service, at least there is some consolation when children stay with mothers. But children miss the love and care of one parent of which there is no replacement in the whole world. A malaise of modern society and fast life, its cure lies in culturally developed psychological mindset.