Islamabad - Stress arising from low income and deteriorating family values, besides some other factors, are leading to perturbing number of breakups of families in the country.

Although marriage starts from a happy note, yet unfortunately it is no more going that successful and in an alarming number of cases, joy of the newlywed couples is proving short-lived, suggests a data on divorce cases in Islamabad.

According to the office record of the Chairman Arbitration Council Islamabad Urban, which deals only with urban areas of the capital, only in the year 2013, 450 women got issued certificates of marriage dissolution on the basis of ‘khula’ while another 213 were divorced by their husbands, raising the toll to 663. The situation in the year 2014 is not different as during the first nine months, 250 women got issued marriage dissolution certificates on the basis of ‘khula’ while 180 male partners opted to break their families. Though the officials were unable to give figure on how many people are getting married every year in Islamabad, they told this scribe that the office was receiving 6-7 cases of love marriage registration daily.

To take an idea of the scale on which separations are taking place in Islamabad, one has to look at the pendency of ‘khula’ cases in Islamabad family courts. In only one family court of Islamabad (Family Court West), 1150 cases pertaining to family disputes and subsequent dissolution of marriage on the basis of ‘khula’ are pending while on average, 60 women are approaching this court only every month for dissolution of marriage on the basis of ‘khula’, the officials said. At least four courts in Islamabad are hearing family cases and on the basis of this, one can say that number of family cases pending in the Islamabad courts only are in thousands and what to talk about the rest of the country. It is to mention here that decree in a ‘khula’ case means filing of some new cases pertaining to dowry articles, guardianship of children and maintenance charges.

In the past, the word ‘divorce’ was considered as a stigma. With an extraordinary tendency among women for demand of their rights, the number is increasing year by year. A survey reveals that financial hardship is a major cause of family breakdown. However, there are few exceptions to the pattern connecting low income with the breakup of families. In some cases, forced marriages, infidelity, physical violence, clash with in-laws, misunderstandings and lack of trust were the major factors behind deteriorating family fabric.

When asked to comment on the situation, Jamila Aslam, an advocate of Supreme Court and former justice of Lahore High Court who is specialised in family cases, revealed some ‘hidden’ factors also which contribute to divorce. To the astonishment of everyone, Jamila Aslam said homosexuality and infidelity on part of women at a later stage of marriage are also contributing to breakup of families. “I was shocked when a few of my clients confided me that their husbands were more interested in males. They spend money on their ‘boy friends’ and had nothing to provide us”, Jamila quoted his a few clients as having told her when they wanted to file ‘khula’ cases. However, she said that these matters were not discussed in the courts due to social barriers.

The more interesting factor was the love affairs of women at a later stage of their marriage. “Some women, also having children, approached me for filing ‘khula’ cases and they told me privately that they are no more interested in their spouse; instead they had an affair with some boy of quite younger age,” Jamila said. However, she added, these clients cited other causes before the family members for filing ‘Khula’ case.

She was of the view that financial problems were contributing more than any other factor to the breakup of families. “With the passage of time, the women are now demanding more rights as separate accommodation which ultimately triggers tension between the partners and a subsequent breakup,” she said. She termed physical violence as another factor leading to the situation. “You will be shocked at the mount of violence against women”, she lamented, adding the second marriage was also a factor to separation. She observed that working women who were financially strong and less dependent on their husbands were less willing to save their marriages.

Jamila, however, said that with the passage of time, in-laws’ interference in couples’ affairs was diminishing. She also did not agree to the notion that love marriages were of fragile nature. “They are educated people and understand each other well and lead a happy life,” she observed.

When asked what she did go through before approaching the court for dissolution of marriage, a woman hailing from Islamabad and claiming to be from elite class on condition of anonymity, said that she was abused mentally and physically by her husband. “I was married in 2002 and filed khula case in 2005, particularly when my husband started abusing my daughter also,” she added. “My ex-husband did not provide me anything during the course of three years despite the fact that being a wealthy man he could afford it,” she added.