Mansura Hossain and Sujan Ghose
Meherunnesa’s (pseudonym) husband started mentally and physically abusing her for dowry a few months into their marriage that took place in 2014. She was even subjected to torture in front of her child. Things worsened last year and Meherunnesa, with the permission of her parents, filed for divorce on 21 July.
Like her, as many as 4,970 people filed for divorce in Chittagong City Corporation last year. The number is 2,532 from January to July this year, with most of the applicants filing for divorce being women.
The picture is no different in the capital city Dhaka. At least 50,000 divorce applications were filed in Dhaka North and South City Corporations in the past six years, which means on average one divorce application was filed every hour.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), divorce application rate has increased by 34 per cent in the past seven years.
The major reason for divorce is marital conflict, according to statistics. Among the reasons for filing for divorce, women mention ill behaviour, extramarital affairs, torture for dowry, settling abroad, drug addiction, social media addiction, impotence and many more.
The reasons, on the other hand, for men to file for a divorce are disobeying Islamic rule, disobedience to husband, indifference to the family, infertility, and so on.
The reasons for divorce are almost the same, regardless of the social stature.
Among the cities, the highest number of divorce application was filed in Barishal while the lowest was in Sylhet, shows the study.
Describing the positive side of divorce, the director of the survey, AKM Ashraful Haque, told Prothom Alo, “People are more conscious now. They take divorce or stay separate if there is any dispute in conjugal life. However, the children have to suffer for their parents’ decision.”
Due to widespread use of social media, husbands or wives are more suspicious of their partners, which eventually destroy the bonding, said Imam Ali and Indrajit Kundu, two professors of sociology department at Chittagong University.
Survey in Dhaka North and South City Corporation shows 70 per cent of the applications for divorce are filed by wives.
Officials at the two city corporations said, previously the families did not back women filing for divorce. But nowadays parents are more conscious and initiate divorce to save their daughters from torture, they added.
“Generally women are not the first to go for a divorce. It can be a matter of research why the number of divorce in Bangladesh is still increasing,” said Rasheda K Chowdhury, former adviser to a caretaker government.
The executive director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) also said, “Most of the women work outside now. They are tired of performing ‘double duties’ — working both in home and outside. Economically solvent women easily get out of messy relationships.”
However, she did mention the problems the children face, “Kids from broken families suffer in the long run. This is alarming.”
*This piece is a compilation of three reports published in Prothom Alo print edition, compiled and rewritten by Farjana Liakat