Parental separations, spurred by economic crises, have affected 60k children
The number of divorces reported in Lahore has increased in recent years amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and economic hardships faced by a large section of the population.
Official record shows a marked increase in divorces in all tehsils of the provincial capital since 2019.
Social activists say children of the affected families have to face the worst problems because of the trend.
According to a research report, a notable increase in the divorce rate was witnessed from January 1, 2019, to February 28 this year due to Covid-19 and other problems.
As many as 24,157 cases of divorce were reported in the city during the period, of which 13,540 men divorced their wives and 9,827 women approached courts in order to part ways with their husbands.
Only 831 of the cases were resolved through reconciliation at the union council level, while 2,642 are pending in courts.
Most of such cases have been delayed because they have not been pursued.
The highest number of divorces in the district was recorded in the city tehsil at 11,879, followed by 6,656 in Shalimar and 5,679 in Cantt tehsil.
Commenting on the figures, civil society activist Abdullah Malik advocate said the separation of such a large number of families was tragic as it showed that about 60,000 children would continue to suffer due to conflicts between their parents.
The father, mother and grandparents try to get custody of the children to upbringing them as per their own wishes.
The affected children were also prone to developing psychiatric problems, he added.
The lawyer said the basic purpose of family courts was conciliation between the estranged couples but because of hundreds of pending cases, they were unable to pursue the process and often take ex-parte decisions within 15 days to a month.
The divorce certificate is issued by the UC concerned.
However, the councils earlier summon the spouses three or four times within 90 days and make efforts for reconciliation.
In case of failure in patch-up, the UC issues the divorce certificate.
The activist said the main reason of the low rate of reconciliation was the absence of elected local governments as the representatives were more aware of the social conditions and more sincere in protecting the families in their communities.
Major reasons for separation between couples include social and emotional issues along with external interference.
Women demanding separation from their husbands mostly cite lack of education, economic and social problems and disputes with their mothers-in-law as reasons.
Most of the women seeking dissolution of marriage also accused their husbands of violence, drug addiction and lack of loyalty.
Replying to a question, Malik said domestic violence, as well as the number of divorces, had increased during the pandemic.
He lamented that no organisation or department was focusing on addressing the major social issue.
In many cases, the dissolution of marriage follows a struggle for expenses, dowry, and children’s custody.
He said it had been noted that husbands destroyed their own families by divorcing their wives immediately in an emotional state.
Abdullah Malik said a large number of love marriages were also ending in separation.
He said child marriages were also causing an increase in the ratio of divorce.
Data compiled from various sources shows that about 75,000 divorce cases were filed from 2005 to 2008, while the figure rose to 124,139 from 2008 to 2011.
As many as 269,064 divorces were registered in Lahore during the past decade.
The number of cases of Khula was 13,299 in 2012, 14,243 in 2013, 16,942 in 2014, and 18,091 in 2016.
When contacted, Islamic Ideological Council member Dr Raghib Naimi said the issue had religious, economic, and social aspects.
In the joint family system, the family is headed by the mother-in-law while TV dramas encourage a desire for a separate home.
Most people having low incomes cannot afford to buy separate houses.
He said one of the main reasons for increasing divorce cases is that the religious instructions of involving the elders from both sides to sort out a dispute are not followed and divorce is given at the moment.
Not allowing women to pursue a career or forcing them to do excessive work at home also results in the separation of many couples.
A psychologist said that conflicts usually arise between husband and wife over non-fulfillment of desires due to economic conditions.
She said the frequent imposition of lockdown due to coronavirus had caused an increase in domestic rites and divorces. She also blamed the media.