When anywhere a divorce application is filed every hour on an average, it is understandable how the married life of the population there has gone haywire. The total number of submissions for divorce was no fewer than 50,000 in the past six years. From this it is deduced that a divorce suit an hour is brought either against a husband or a wife. What is remarkable is the fact that of the divorce petitions, 70 per cent are initiated by women. The second most unliveable city on this planet is where couples are now becoming increasingly intolerant of each other.
Some people find in it a positive development. Positive, because women are no longer ready to lead a subservient life. More women are economically self-reliant and hence their parents also back them when they opt for severing the nuptial tie on account of a troubled marriage. Those who view the bright side of this trend argue that it is a sure proof of women empowerment.
There is some truth in the argument but at the same time this social development has many downsides which can ultimately leave society gravely hurt. The study conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) finds that Barishal tops the list of the cities with the highest number of divorce applications submitted. Even Chattogram is not lying far behind. Last year 4,970 people applied for divorce in the port city. The number of submissions is 2,532 until July this year. If the trend continues, the number is likely to go up this year.
There is no surprise in the reasons cited by husbands and wives. The major reasons women have mentioned are misbehaviour, extra-marital affairs, torture for dowry, settling abroad, drug addiction, social media addiction and impotence. On the other hand, husbands have mostly referred to non-compliance with Islamic rule, disobedience to husband, indifference to family and infertility. Whether age difference has been mentioned by applicants is not known.
The BBS study has covered social strata where at least the marriage is solemnised with enough formalities so much so that records are available with listed kazi offices. But what about the marriages that take place in villages or somewhere away from the cities or towns where the married couples come to live in slums and men get engaged in rickshaw-pulling or other odd jobs and women mostly work as domestic help? Such a domestic help works for a number of households in cities and towns for a pittance. There is no guarantee that she will find her husband on return to her poorly crafted rented shelter. Men at this level of social rung elope with girls and women randomly. They need no divorce application before separation. If this kind of estrangement could be brought into account, the incidence of divorce of the city hosting the largest slum people in the country would have been much higher.
EM Forster was apprehensive that England would be inherited by its bastards. Strangely, divorce rates are declining in the United Kingdom (UK) since 2001. One of the reasons may be the rise of live-together arrangement. The deepening crisis of conjugal life in slums is so common and ugly that abandoned women also are forced to give up their responsibility to bring up children. These children are not bastards but in most cases they become parentless and have to fend for themselves. Many of the Tokais (the name carries a derogatory tag) come from such broken families in slums. They will not inherit Dhaka city but the majority of them get involved in criminal activities if they get the opportunity to grow up.
As for the children of broken families of the upper classes, the psychological trauma is at times overwhelming. Unless the parents come to a mutual understanding about sharing their responsibilities for their children in the most accommodative manner possible after divorce, there is every chance of something undesirable happening to the young ones. The pain is acuter when either of the parents or both enter into fresh marriages. Children here are no better than the abandoned children in slums and this is despite the fact that they may be taken care of by other members of their families.
Now whatever may be the causes behind bringing an end to the conjugal life, those should not be allowed to overwhelm the lives of children. Reasons may be many but all summed up comes to just lack of understanding. In some cases either of the party can be really unreasonable to the point where it is impossible to live together under the same roof. But then this should have been realised before bringing new lives to the world. Once that done, there is no scope of avoiding responsibilities for young ones who are at no point to blame.
Sure enough, this is an age of intolerance. Change in lifestyle with aggressive consumerism taking the soul a hostage, has a lot to do in leaving families asunder. Divorce is linked to economy: in the United States of America and the UK, during boom time divorces go up but during economic recession decline. It should not be any different here. Some people here have possessed too much money. Honest and innocent people willing to live a life with integrity have been cornered under the system and most of the family feuds issue from the bad influences from all corners of society.
Against this, quality education and cultural orientation together can construct life quite meaningfully. There is need for redefining a good and fulfilling life. At no point should it be tagged with affluence and income -means notwithstanding. A contended and connected life of modest means can help save human bonds including that of family.
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