7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

'Divorce epidemic' claims dismissed

CLAIMS that Bahrain is facing a "divorce epidemic" have been dismissed by a government minister.

During parliament's weekly session yesterday, Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa warned MPs not to embellish claims about escalating divorce rates - pointing to statistics that showed these had actually fallen in the last four years.

"There isn't a 'divorce epidemic' in Bahrain in the way that has been propagated," said Shaikh Khalid.

"We also don't have the necessary sociology studies to truly uncover all of the required information.

"However, the divorce rate in 2010 was 19.7 per cent and in 2014 was 7.9pc - it has clearly gone down, not up."

The GDN reported last month on a study conducted by the ministry that showed a 47pc decline in the number of newly-weds getting divorced in 2010 when compared to 2014.

Out of the 6,344 couples who married last year, 500 were divorced in the same year - a rate of 79 divorces per 1,000 marriages.

This is a drop in the divorce rate of almost 60pc when compared to four years previously, when 4,814 couples married and 947 divorced during the same year - a rate of 197 divorces per 1,000 marriages.

"When speaking about divorce, if we're talking about a family where the husband and wife cannot agree and work together on how to raise their children, keeping them together might be more dangerous than letting them divorce," said Shaikh Khalid.

"That doesn't mean I'm defending divorce, but when we look at issues we have to look at it without giving the impression of a problem that doesn't exist.

"We're now in an age that everyone, man and woman, should know their rights and responsibilities.

"We should help build certain foundations for families.

""We can't forget that Bahrain is a religious and traditional society that respects families.

"If there are specific cases, then we should deal with them, but giving general comments and influencing public opinion into thinking there's something going on is wrong.

"Also, when we discuss this issue and speak about divorced women, we should not be speaking in a way that is disparaging of her rights."

The minister said that a sample study of 113 cases had showed that families who have four children or more are less likely to divorce, but those who did get divorced were more likely to split when their children were in secondary school.

"The data isn't full and correct, as this is just a sample of 113 cases," he said.

"As for income levels - people think it's poor people who get divorced, but it isn't.

"The most common divorces are of those with a middle-level income.

"Those who are poor or rich get divorced less, I don't know why, maybe it's because there's not as many people who are either very poor or very rich."

In the ensuing discussion, MP Mohsin Al Bakri made the point that divorced women should not be granted more rights than their married counterparts.

"We are all for divorced woman rights, but we can't exaggerate and give these women more rights than married women," he said.

"Forgive me, but there are some women who want to divorce to get certain rights, such as housing.

"For some women, when an opportunity comes to get remarried, she refuses because she doesn't want to lose the rights she has."

In conclusion, parliament chairman Ahmed Al Mulla suggested that MPs set up a committee or order a study to look into the issue further.

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