Divorced women On the rise in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a mainly Muslim society where women used to struggle to get a divorce;
But in 2015, seven out of 10 divorces granted in the capital city Dhaka were started by women. Ayesha Parvin is a successful vocational school manager. But she spent years trying to make an abusive marriage work. And when she opted for divorce her parents froze her out. She said, “Their reaction was no, you can’t take this decision. There are many women enduring pain to keep their family together. What kind of a women are you, if you can’t keep your man straight. It folt like it was all my responsibility to keep the family together. They stopped all communication with me for two and half years.” The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics surveyed 22,000 women. Four in five had experienced domestic abuse. Maleka lives in one of Dhaka’s slums and also suffered domestic violence. She said, “I work as a domestic help. If I didn’t give him my money, he would beat me up. He wouldn’t give me food like rice or dal (Lentils). He would spend nights with other women in front of my own eyes When he started living with my niece, I felt I couldn’t stay with him any more. That’s when I divorced him. My own sister’s daughter. And later her married her.”
The Ain o Salish Kendra human rights organization in Dhaka provides free legal aid. It says women’s greater economic independence and education is driving the divorce trend. The government has also sought to protect married Muslim women. There’s a renewed focus on a fully completed marriage certificate…
Where the section giving the women a right to divorce is filled in. Nowadays, even family members (of the bride) are more aware about filling in this column. They’re more aware and want to ensure the girl has right to divorce. And it’s sending out a massage to the registrar that it should be done. Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Most women do not get to choose their husband… and when the marriage becomes abusive they’re often forced to stay. Ayesha and Maleka defied the social pressure to stay in a violent marriage. They both say they’re happier alone.
By Md. Atikul Islam Tushar