In the past two months, 2300 women have filed for divorce in Lahore. On average, 150 divorce cases are brought to courts daily. This might not seem immediately like a good thing, but if analysed critically, there are positive indicators here as well.

A few things could be going on here:

First, it could mean women are becoming more educated and aware of their rights. Secondly, that their families are becoming more educated and aware of their rights and are more willing to support these women in their decisions to leave harmful marriages. In many ways, (though certainly not all), it signals a rise in women’s empowerment. This allows them to feel more comfortable standing up for themselves without fearing cultural and familial repercussions. Thirdly, the male breadwinner is no longer a necessity, and women are slowly becoming an important part of the workplace. The exposure of the real world is adding to the emancipation of women, and more of them are beginning to feel that their voices cannot be ignored over the furor caused by men whenever a woman decides to end an abusive marriage. Fourthly, that the taboo associated with divorc, at least in urban centres like Lahore, no longer adds as much of a burden to the decision; it gets rid of the assumption that women who may be oppressed have no choice but to stay married. A few decades ago, it was an issue of “family honour,” as most things here are, and there were few alternatives.

Assuming that women are making these decisions responsibly, perhaps what the rising divorce rate is showing us is a change in society’s perception. Perhaps it is saying that, at least in urban centers, the status of women is changing and that communities need to stop looking at women as an extension of their husbands. Women have proven time and again that they are at par with men, intellectually and emotionally, and cannot be forced into being made homemakers only (unless by choice). Instead, they are productive members of society; a society that needs them badly, not only to be great family women, but also to be happier, fulfilled individuals on the whole.