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The aim behind conducting this research is to shed light on some of the major reasons of the divorce phenomenon in UAE, which is drastically soaring in rate. This writing attempts to explore ideas about the factors of divorce and its catalysts in the society. This research also provides a detailed description of such factors and presents the most common reasons that led to the emergence of the factors behind divorce. In general, this writing logically outlines the reasons that led to divorce. This research is still in progress; thus, this paper only serves as a blueprint to a final draft, which shall cover the issue in a more comprehensive approach and provide broader detail about the phenomena. Since time constraint delimits the researcher to obtain more information about the issue, only a partial coverage of the phenomenon is tackled in this research paper.
The major issues tackled in the succeeding text as contributory to the escalating rate of divorce in the Emirates include early marriage, financial issues, culture/tradition, polygamy, and adultery. All of these reasons suggest poor marriage foundation which maybe due to a lack of understanding about the reality of married life and a lack of regard for the value of marriage. At the end of this research, an accurate picture of the social issue shall be presented in the conclusion. Possible solutions will also be recommended to curb the rising rate of divorce in the form of formal and informal education to create awareness about responsible decision-making on matters concerning marriage thru the use of various media whether thru print, radio, or the internet, and by reinforcing existing government initiatives to address this social issue.
Since the primitive ages of mankind, couples have chosen to be either together or separated. Divorce is a legitimate separation process imposed by religion; however, sophistication of the human beings by means of different religious beliefs, education and experiences in life could not put an end to the obstacle of divorce. Furthermore, the common reasons of divorce are shared worldwide and have general characteristics. Whether the reasons rely on both/ or either of the spouses, divorce is a substance of causes and effects-chains that should be seriously taken into consideration. Unlike worldwide countries, the divorce rate in the U.A.E. is increasing for many different scenarios. In this paper, the major reasons of why married couples resort to breaking the bonds of marriage thru a divorce will be discussed in further detail. Additionally, this paper shall comprehensively tackle how such scenarios have contributed to the alarming rise of divorce rate in UAE. At the end of this research, we shall be able to acquire a good picture of how serious is this social issue, and suggest ways on how the society and the government can effectively address this. As a country known to the world to uphold high morals and regard the sanctity of marriage with high valuation, it is but essential that social authorities look into this social issue and initiate actions to control the rising rate.
The escalating rate of divorce in the country has been attributed to early marriage, financial issues, culture/tradition, polygamy, and adultery.
Body of the Essay
Early marriage is one of the main causes of divorce. According to one study, 13.5% of divorced women and 23.7% of divorced men married early (Nazzal, 2001). At the beginning, according to Jamal Al Bah, director of the Marriage Fund in the U.A.E, many marriage cases end up in divorce because couples lack experience regarding the problems they face when they start their new lives. For example, some couples think that marriage is as smooth as the previous life they used to live with their families where there were neither responsibilities nor obligations to assume. Nevertheless, marriage is an infinite chain of new and different duties that each and every new married couple should take into consideration before they step into it. Furthermore, because some couples do not have mature experience about marital life and spousal obligations, they will not be able to react properly or take proper decisions for different obstacles they face (Gessner, 2000). Dr. Fatma Sayegh, a professor at the UAE University in Al Ain who is specializing in women's issues, have the same stand. According to her, young people get into marriage without an understanding of its significance. This is the reason why these relationships don't last, especially when faced with the challenges of married life. Moreover, problems that face early marriages may be aggravated by the fact that the couple had not had much time to know each other well before getting married; thus compatibility issues arise which may result into misunderstandings between the couple that's difficult to resolve (Chilton, 2009). Second, many families force their daughters to marry men who are of an age that is very different to their own. For example, girls who are in their late teens or early twenties, get married to men who are in their forties or even older that causes a clash of thinking and other forms of problems. In other words, these girls are not mature enough to cope with the new difficulties of the spousal life. In short, girls in such situations are always victims of their families' inappropriate choice to the right partner for them (Gessner, 2000). Apart from that compatibility problems may also arise primarily due to age gap and differences in interests, attitudes, beliefs, and values.
Financial problems are another main cause for divorce. Firstly, it is widely known what precedes a marriage; it's all about the expenditures made by grooms, which may lead to huge financial difficulties that would shortly threaten a couple's life (Chilton, 2009). For instance, in order for the grooms to please their brides and make them enjoy their wedding day, they have to do many things. Furthermore, some grooms spend more than they can afford by taking huge loans from banks. Moreover, other families may ask for a dowry which is known in most cases among U.A.E nationals as a huge amount that a groom is required to pay for his bride. Although these expenses make newly-wed couples happy on their wedding day, they might contribute later on to ruining their life that has not started yet, a life in debt. Secondly, the rent sky rocketing constitutes a new factor that causes divorce. For example, according to Jasem Mekki, head of the Family Guidance Committee, studies revealed that the spouse couldn't afford the appropriate accommodation for his wife as the rents are soaring, and he added, “The problem affected the newly married couples more”. With such calamity, one wonders why the government has not so far taken the appropriate measures to curb the spread of the rent hikes within the country, knowing that the latter provokes serious social problems in the U.A.E community (Nazzal, 2009). Thirdly, an unsatisfactory salary tears some couples' marital life. As a part of Mekki's work, “The income of young people does not give them the chance to get a house and start a family”. Recently, this becomes obvious with the increasing cost of living (Nazzal, 2009).
The diagram below shows the result of a study by the UAE Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs on the most important reasons of divorce among Emirati couples. From the data, it can be inferred that it is often the man who initiates the divorce, and the most prevalent reason for this is polygamy or the desire to marry another woman (Hammad, 2003).
Reasons of Divorce among UAE Couples
In addition to the early marriage and the financial problems, polygamy is considered as a crucial motive for divorce. First of all, the inability of women to have children could be considered as a primary reason for polygamy. According to an article published in Islam Online in year 2006, twenty-three percent (23%) of women are deprived of having children. Although these women inability to have children is beyond their will (or in other words, it is their fate), their husbands blame it on them and take advantage of the situation to seek another partner who will be able to give them what the first one had deprived them of. Second, some women become victims of age as they grow older, so men tend to use that as an excuse to find another younger wife. Based on the same survey in the article mentioned above, thirty-one percent (31%) of divorces is due to the man's desire to marry another woman. Third, family duties negligence is a factor that leads to divorce as well. This, including overindulgence to alcohol, accounts for thirteen (13%) of responses for divorce reasons. In other words, a man might fail to fulfill his duties as a husband or a father by staying out late, missing family functions, or not being there for his wife or kids needs. This means the wife has to compensate and carries out the father's responsibilities as well. This increase in responsibility overburdens her and eventually makes her unwillingly neglecting her duties as a wife. In many cases this is an adequate reason for the man to go and marry again. Thus, such study concluded that in most cases, it is the man that most likely initiates the divorce (Hammad, 2003).
Cultural / Traditional habits are another major cause of elevated divorce rates in the UAE. First, fixed marriages might have influenced the rate of divorced nationals. For instance, many couples go into marriage just to fulfill their families' desires, and they get failed expectations or unmet needs (Gessner, 2000). Second, Middle Eastern male sexism and women liberation are a huge factor in the chain of divorce. Women fight to be financially independent clashed with men rejection of allowing their wives working in an atmosphere that will put them in contact with other men. This is because men prefer them to stay home to look after their children. Women see that as a sexist act that is discriminating against them and violating their right of equalization. Dr. Hassan Ismael Obaid, social advisor to the UAE marriage fund stated that the changing attitudes of many national women had also played a big role in the rising divorce rates. They were resisting the social structures that rendered them faceless and voiceless, and bound them socially and financially to male relative (Gessner, 2000). Third, sometimes family interference is another factor that leads couples to divorce. A recent study on divorce conducted by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs stressed in many cases couples were divorced after they chose to share accommodation with their families. According to this study, thirty-four percent (34%) of divorced women have lived with their spouses' families and around eight percent of divorced men have lived with their wives' families (Nazzal, 2001). Such a setup contributes to making the situation between the young spouses worse. For instance, some couples who get married might have small misunderstandings between each other, and because they are sharing their accommodation usually with either family, they get to seek advice by involving them in every misunderstanding they face whether shallow or serious. Such interference could sometimes make matters worse between the spouses instead of simplifying them. Ultimately, this can automatically cause divorce for a couple.
Last but not least, adultery is one of the worst ways of causing divorce. This happens when one of the spouses in a marriage has an affair and been unfaithful to the other. In the beginning, “Islam views adultery as a violation of a marital contract and one of the major sins”; yet in this day and age, many of married Moslems are in lack of the religious factor, which comes between them and between committing the act of infidelity (Adultery). Second, there is the blind negative imitation of foreigners via exposure to all types of media whether it is TV, magazine and internet. This influences the community to adapt to new behavior patterns of openness that contradicts with the native culture (Gessner, 2000). Moreover, this blind imitation made many members of the society see adultery as a normal thing to do, a conduct that is overlooked, forgivable, and not a taboo as long as it remained an unmentioned little secret. Third, the psychological effect on the behavior and personality is a reason among the others. For example, it is said that the way a person is raised as a child plus the way he/she was treated, shapes his/her personality. In addition, how a person interacts with the community is traced back to his/her early stages of development, so some couples face problems with trust and honesty that cause marital difficulties. Yet, instead of working on them, they go on and have affairs on the side to seek attention and satisfaction. “The way couples are brought up affects their ability to face the reality were raised during childhood, when they were prevented from expressing themselves freely and clearly, is considered one of the reasons for the increasing divorce rate” (Survey reveals 46pc divorce rate in UAE, 2005). The brining up system therefore affects the couple's ability to face and deal with the reality later on their lives.
In conclusion, the divorce rate in the United Arab Emirates is soaring due to diverse reasons. Although, there is no official statistics on how rampant divorce cases are in the country, it is estimated that one in three Emirati couples end up in divorce (UAE steps in to curb rising divorce rate, 2009). Primarily, most cases of divorce are due to improper reason for the decision to get tied up in marriage such as what happens in early marriages and arranged marriages as dictated by culture and tradition. Such marriages have shown to have poor foundation, which is why it is not lasting and thus forcing both parties to culminate the marriage bond thru a divorce. And because of compatibility issues and poor bond, these couples find it difficult to bring the relationship across tides that maybe normally encountered by married couples like financial problems. Other reasons which also account a large percentage of the reasons why couples in UAE end up in divorce are rooted on morality. One author of The Emirates Economist commented that with the currently soaring rate of divorce in UAE, the United States is far from being morally inferior to UAE in such terms (Chilton, 2008). This assertion can be more justified with the fact that polygamy and adultery are among the major reasons why UAE couples end up breaking bonds of marriage. The community structure and culture provides an appropriate environment that fosters the tremendous spread of this phenomenon. A solution might not be easily obtained but, with proper formal and informal education combined and further religious-based awareness thru the use of various media among the new generation, eventually such phenomenon would significantly be reduced. It is suggested that education about marriage be started early on and integrated with formal sex education courses in schools. This is potentially beneficial especially among our youth to create an awareness of the reality of marriage life in their young minds and prepare them to make wiser decisions for their future. Such awareness may not only be taught in schools; the vast array of media tools that modern technology has created may be utilized to spread information about the right motivation for marriage. Other than that, the television, audio media, newspapers, and the internet maybe utilized by authorities to promote and reinforce good values and morals about the sanctity of marriage among the Emiratis especially the younger generation. Currently, there is a government drive to curb the rising rate of divorce among Emirate couples and such is directed among the youth. A council was created which will look into new trends and the youth's attitudes towards marriage. This nationwide survey will be conducted by the UAE Ministry of Social Affairs (UAE steps in to curb rising divorce rate, 2009). Moreover, government initiatives such as monitoring divorce rates, tax incentives for couples and their children, conduct of mass discussion about the negative effects of divorce thru awareness campaigns, and founding social leagues to save families and settle disputes may also curb the rising rate of divorce (UAE has one of the highest divorce rates in the Middle East, 2009). Apart from these moves, one cause of why UAE couples find it easy to resort to divorce is its cheap cost; thus, the government and authorities might as well consider increasing its cost for the benefit of making Emiratis more responsible in deciding regarding marriage matters. The rising rate of divorce in the UAE society must be a cause of concern for the government and the Emirates society as a whole. Steps to curb its rise must be seriously initiated. After all, marriage is a serious social matter; it is not like chewing gum that one can just simply spit when it loses taste. And as a nation that upholds a reputation of high morals, we don't want to be known as a country of broken homes.
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