JEDDAH, 24 October 2003 — Given the enormous rise in the divorce rate in the Kingdom — the second-highest in the world — the head of Jeddah’s marriage court, Sheikh Saleh Ahmad Habad, has called for urgent steps to address the issue.
The court registers 40 marriages and 20 divorces a day.
Sheikh Saleh stressed the high price children pay when their parents divorce, including behavioral disorders, depression, addiction and low school performance.
Shaden Al-Rais, a divorcee and mother of three, told Arab News marriage did not mean happily ever after. “But divorce does not necessarily mean miserable for life for the ex-wife and children,” she added.
A study conducted by Dr. Ebtisam Halawani at King Abdul Aziz University revealed that the main reason most women left their spouses was ill-treatment and violence. Most divorces occur during the first three years of marriage, the study said.
Polygamy, according to Abdullah Al-Fawzan, a professor and sociologist at King Saud University in Riyadh, is responsible for up to 55 percent of divorces. He added that the loss of trust, sincerity, compassion and cooperation were also factors in the failure of marriages.
The involvement of husbands in illicit relationships is a factor according to 38 percent of divorcees. Since few couples can get to know each other before getting married, the incompatibility and misunderstanding that can arise as a result often lead to separation, Professor Fawzan added.
According to the Ministry of Planning, 70,000 marriages and 13, 000 divorces were recorded last year. In Riyadh, there were 3, 000 divorces out of 8,500 marriages that took place in 2002.
Makkah had the largest number of divorcees (396, 248), followed by Riyadh (327, 427), the Eastern Province (228, 093), and Asir (130, 812).
If the trend continues, there will be eight million single women in the Kingdom by the end of the decade, according to Dr. Ebtisam Halawani’s study.