Why is Divorce Growing ?

@  Bharat Koirala

Susmita Gurung of Rambajar, Pokhara married Amar Gurung of Pumdibhumdi five years ago. Their love affair of a few months had culminated into marriage.  But  misunderstanding started from the very first day of marriage. Amar, who was addicted to drugs not only routinely scolded his wife but also started beating her.  They pulled on for four years. She gave birth to a son in the meantime. Susmita had hoped that her husband would come round after the birth of their son but that did not happen. Susmita could not bear with the never ending violence on her.  When all her efforts went in vain, she filed a case for a divorce at Kaski district court.  ‘Was it not possible to help your daughter and son-in-law to reconcile with each other?’ asked court officer Dinbandhu Baral to Susmita’s father who was accompanying her. Her father angrily answered, ‘sir, we tolerated up to this point, I brought up my daughter with a lot of hardship. He beats her up day in day out. I helped open a small business by spending 200,000 rupees. But she could not stay with him. Now she and my grandson are living with me. They cannot live together any longer’. On the day on which Susmita was at the court, other three cases of divorce were also registered. According to court officer Baral, ‘the highest number of cases is in the Kathmandu District Court, Kaski is the second and Chitawan comes the third’.

In Kaski District Court, altogether 548 cases of divorce were filed during the fiscal year 2013/14.  Scrutinization of the cases reveals that most of the cases are from the couples who had gone for an overseas employment, had married at an early age, and had inter-caste marriage and those who had married through facebook love. Last year, 474 cases of divorce were registered at the Kaski District Court. Court officer Baral says, ‘the large number of cases filed for divorce indicates the direction to which our society is moving. It is necessary to become sensitive’. This year, only two men have filed cases for divorce while rest of the others is women. The existing civil code has made divorce easier for women. If a woman wants, she can directly go to court and file a divorce case. If her husband is present, the case is decided on the very day on which it is registered. As for men, the process is a bit complicated. The man who wants to obtain a divorce should first submit his application at the VDC or municipality in which he lives. One year has been fixed as a time for persuasion and reconciliation after the date of case registration. The husband can file the case at the court with necessary papers if reconciliation is not possible during that period.

Giving decision on a writ filed at the Supreme Court with complaint that law had discriminated between man and women, the Supreme Court had directed the government to formulate a law.  Though the draft of the law has been prepared, it is yet to be tabled   at the legislative parliament. Court officer Baral says, ‘if a law is enacted allowing men also to file cases of divorce directly at the court, the court will not be able to hear other cases except divorce’.

This is the aspect of legal remedy. Puspa Pariyar of Rivan in Kaski is now 17 years old. She married under the pressure of her mother three years ago.  She gave birth to a son at the age of fifteen. She had fairly good relationship with her husband for a couple of months after marriage. But her drug addict husband started to ignore her. This was not all. He also married another woman after some time. Puspa felt that her life would not move on if she continued to hang around him. She went to her maternal house with her son and is now eking out her living through daily wages.  She could not go to court for justice, nor did she come to the notice of associations which are active on women’s rights movement.

Why is family disintegration growing?  Shova Paudel from Progressive Law Professional Association says, ‘awareness about the rights, inclusive society, migration and overseas employment are some of the reasons’.   Eighty percent of those who come to the court for divorce are below thirty years of age.  Eighteen percent are between 30 to 40 years and those who are older than this constitute only two percent.  According to court officer Baral, the changing sex behavior is also responsible for growing disintegration of families. He says, ‘husband goes abroad immediately after marriage and his wife seeks alternative medium to get sex satisfaction. This has become the cause of the problem later on’.  Chairperson of Kaski Bar Association Padmapani Devkota says that on the other side some men send their wives on overseas employment and indulge in romance here. When their wives come back they suspect them leading to disintegration of the family.  Those marriages which have been made between mature couples or between those who are capable of thinking about the future have become durable. There are many who married in haste imitating their friends and under the influence of the media and are repenting in leisure.  Anthropologist and Associate Professor of Prithvinarayan Multiple Campus Amrit Bhandari says the tendency of marrying at an early age has increased because of the temptation to imitate.  It is necessary to provide education to young boys and girls at schools and colleges on sex and reproduction.  According to his suggestion if education is given on the pre-marital and post-marital responsibilities, this problem can be mitigated.

According to the detail provided by court officer Baral, 56 cases were filed with a demand for the share of property 22 cases  were filed for establishing relationship, 27 were filed against bigamy and 63 were filed for the payment of alimony.  Nepal’s law does not recognize a marriage if it is made between couples below 18 years of age. But people below 18 years of age are also found to have married.  According to an investigation in schools even girls studying at grade eight are found to have been married.  This problem is found more among poor and the Dalit families.

–         Sancharika Feature Service

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