Egypt has recently been suffering from a very high divorce rate, peaking in 2017 with a total of about 190,000 cases, according to the central bureau of statistics.
Maysa Shawky, Deputy Minister of Health and the General Supervisor of the Council of Population, Childhood and Motherhood, has said that the divorce rate in cities recorded 60.7 percent, while 39.3 percent were recorded in the villages.
It is to be noted that fifty years ago, Egyptian families were concretely tight, with minor divorce cases witnessed, marriage was based on traditions and acquaintances. Families managed to deal with disputes within the elder members of the family whose decision was the ultimate factor; an action defined in Islam for solving marital disputes by judging a respected wise member from each family who meet, discuss and agree to a solution. Yet, there is no doubt that the Egyptian society has witnessed a transformation over the past 50 years. Many of the women within this type are either young, uneducated or dependent on another.
Dr. Said Sadek, explains that in Egypt we have two main types of marriage. The first type is the traditional marriage; within this frame women get married, most likely to their cousins, relatives or family acquaintances. Within this type, a lower divorce rate is recoded, as families do get engaged in solving disagreements and advising solutions. The second type of marriage is modern marriages; within this type of marriage, women work, and are able to sustain themselves financially,they will not accept any type of mistreatment brought along when integrating their lives with their partners, whom they regard as equal. In most cases disputes arise when the male dominant figure (brought up by the Si-El-Saied figure drawn by Naguib Mahfooz in his most famous novel entitled “Qasr Al-Shouk”) starts leading the house, and as they both challenge their powers and impact on household disagreements burst and the divorce rate is much higher due to the independence of decision making.
“There are various reasons behind the high divorce rate in Egypt; women are pressured to conform with the norms of a society (that sees marriage for women as security and a target that the girl needs to achieve to be complete) and get married, they are usually exposed to family pressures and in most cases they rush into marriage for the wrong reasons, either to conform with the envisioned future set forth by the family or to escape from the main family’s house pressure,” says Dr. Sadek “ It is to be noted that “kholae”, which is the legal option for women to end their marriage, also did lead to an increase in the divorce rates, as a lot of women to take such a decision for variable reasons, Dr. Sadek added.
Dr. Sadek noted that the financial aspect, is regarded as an important factor leading to the increased divorce rate phenomena, He explains that the financial aspect is one of the core reasons behind the higher divorce rates experienced. “60% of young couples in Egypt get married with the financial support from their parents”. On the other hand, Expenses of marriage thereafter, makes marriage difficult due to obligations set forth to develop a household, an issue that causes multiple disputes. Furthermore, some husbands take more than one job to maintain expenses, especially with the increased expenses due to the current economic reform.
In fact the financial factor is why many youngsters prefer to stay single and avoid the responsibility of marriage, and if they do get a divorce they are reluctant to go into a second marriage and might resort to other options that other singles resort to. Like choosing to have casual relationships, which may sadly end up in an increased number of street children or un-acknowledged children, or sadly resort to porn sites or sexual harassment.
H. E., a young Egyptian female who has recently filled a divorce case against her husband, says:
“I took the decision to file a divorce case upon being mistreated by my husband; I have been married for 9 years and I have two kids. The reason is not related to the financial aspect, actually he was not sustaining the house financially for a while and I have been working in a factory for 10 years and have been sustaining my kids and myself financially; he is an alcoholic and in fact he was taking my money and abusing me. I filed this case, as I no longer want him in our life and he is turning into a bad model for my kids. My family was opposing to such a step, however I hired a lawyer without waiting for their consent”. Domestic violence remains a key factor in developing the divorce rate phenomena and has fuelled most of the Kholae cases in court.
H. D., an Egyptian male in his 30’s, say: “I would say that the financial reason is one of the core reasons for the high divorce rate in Egypt, with respect to the various social classes in the society. I would say that some girls are raised in a wrong way; they are not accustomed to bear any types of responsibility, especially if her parents are rich; they overburden the male with a lot of financial obligations that he cannot afford, like getting a maid to cook and clean, traveling or fancy lifestyles which turns crazy along time, especially with the increased financial burdens of bringing up children and sustaining a decent living, and under these pressures some men and women resort to divorce.
Finally, Dr, Said Sadek concludes by noting that if the individual is happily married, this will be reflected on the whole family; it is always better no to rush into marriage for the wrong reasons; it is better to invest time and effort in understanding your partner, his expectations, income and goals to plan for a better life rather than saying yes to social pressure.
Men and Women in Egypt lack the education of partnership in a marriage relationship; women expect to have a handy man who is able to do everything in life. While a man envisions a wife with the super power of holding a household with a set budget, cooks, cleans, bring up his children and satisfies his deepest desires which is also not realistic. An equation that needs the balance of sharing tasks and understanding, as well as, requires sacrifices from both sides to maintain a health prospect of a family.