Today, in our society, divorce is the most popular method for ending an unwanted marriage. Unbelievably, women in our community who are exercising their right to Khula to escape their miserable marriages are activating this unwanted HALAL option. The rising divorce rate is genuinely alarming. Parents no longer advise their daughters, “Ab susraal se tumhara janaza he wapis aaye ga,” and daughters will follow this advice until their last breath, regardless of the circumstances. Love marriages are officially recognized as legal entities in Pakistan. But in this South Asian country, arranged marriages are the norm rather than the exception.
According to a 2020 survey by the Gilani Research Foundation, 58% of Pakistanis believe that the country’s divorce rate has increased. There are numerous causes for this trend, ranging from domestic violence to different perspectives on life. In Pakistan’s patriarchal society, regardless of who initiates divorce proceedings, a woman is typically blamed, especially if she is educated and a professional. Incorrectly, male chauvinists view such women as both admirers of the western ethos and a threat to our customs and traditions.
In 2022, thousands of divorce cases were filed in Lahore courts, proving that it is not only celebrities who have recently ended their relationships. During the first seven months of 2022, the courts have granted more than 6,000 divorces and are currently considering another 7,000 divorce petitions. This means that between 100 and 150 divorce cases are filed daily in the courts. The increase in the number of cases has made it difficult for the courts to keep up. In response, seven additional divorce courts have been established in Lahore over the past three years, doubling the total number of divorce courts in the city.
The global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic caused a severe economic downturn and dramatic changes in social norms, making 2020 the most challenging year in decades. The nationwide lockdown imposed during the pandemic caused hundreds of thousands of people, especially those from low-income and low-education groups, to lose their means of subsistence, increasing the unemployment rate. However, the pandemic also provided a rare opportunity for people to stay indoors and spend time with their families, as fears of the coronavirus’s spread sparked widespread panic.
In light of the aforementioned statistics, questions arise as to why the sacred bond of marriage, which, according to our religious views/beliefs, is established by the teachings of Islam, is being cursed/broken. From an empathic perspective, there are a number of reasons contributing to Pakistan’s high divorce rate. The examples of filing a divorce suggest that unemployment, financial issues, and in some cases, violent marriages may be among the leading causes of divorce. However, most importantly, they highlight the shifting social attitudes. The increased number of divorces indicates that the vast majority of Pakistani society no longer views the process as taboo. Although the reasons for divorce are significant, it is the improved status of women, their increasing independence, and their heightened self-awareness that have contributed to the rise in divorces and brought marriage-related issues to the forefront of public consciousness.
These trends indicate that an increasing number of women are aware of their rights and have developed sufficient self-confidence to stand up for themselves when their spouses treat them unfairly. Women choose to remain independent on their own terms rather than remain dependent on others and be subjected to unfair treatment or be denied what is theirs in marriage. Forced marriages and relationships in which the husband’s masculinity is both fragile and brutal are more likely to result in these types of situations.
There are numerous other reasons, dependent on the individuals and their circumstances, for the dissolution of a marriage. Other than their families, the media and social media influence our generation in this age of rapid change. When empowering our female citizens, we as a society must address this issue. There may be a glimmer of hope, however, if the young generation is educated and made aware of how they will behave after marriage. If we analyze the behaviour of males and females in our society, we find that the education system has revitalized their futures while simultaneously granting feminism independence to women and liberty to the most powerful men in our society. In other words, the gap between the sexes is too wide, and both seek ideals, which can lead to either good or bad decisions.
The increase in divorces indicates a greater social acceptance of separation. This indicates that parents may now fully support their children who are seeking a divorce, which represents a significant shift in the prevalent social response to divorce. Outsiders and society may no longer view and treat unmarried and divorced daughters as burdens in their parents’ homes. The true heartbreak and actual victims of divorce are children.
We must educate our nation to normalize the term “divorcee” and promote widespread acceptance of single mothers. Our obligation is not to blame women for failed marriages but rather to teach sons to accept women with all their flaws, just as most women accept their husbands. Patience is the essential virtue in this situation, and both partners must learn what to disregard and avoid emotional responses to all issues. Additionally, marriage with a divorced woman or man is just as appropriate as marriage with a non-divorced individual. Significant is the role of Ulemas, who could mitigate the gravity of such actions. Social training should also begin.
By no means are we opposed to KHULA or divorcees, as this right has been granted to both men and women by our religion, and the situation is currently in our control. Such measures should be taken to eliminate unwanted marriages and relationships. We recognize that today’s woman is more energetic, agile, and aware of societal and cultural norms than ever before, but we must curb the trend of liberation by divorce or KHULA.