Divorce Rate In India: A Comparative Analysis
The divorce rate is India is amongst the lower in the entire world. This is fairly commendable in spite of the fact that rates in the metro cities have almost doubled in little over 5 years. Even the comparatively conservative state of Punjab has seen the number of marriage breaking increase by an astounding 150 %.
The reasons for an increasing number of Indians opting to separate are, amongst many others, exposure to globalisation, the increased financial liberation of women, and an increased progressive and thinking section of society. This would, at the same time, explain why the United States Of America has amongst the highest rates in the world.
All the above mentioned factors, be it increased financial liberation of women or progressive thinking, have been prevalent in the Unites States for a number of decades already.
According to statistics released in 2002 by www.divorcemag.com, India has a rate of as low as 1% in stark comparison to Sweden, which has made it to the top at 54.9 %. Although, in a comparative study of the rates prevalent in Asia, India ranks amongst the highest while most Asian countries having these rates pegged at just under 1%.
Unlike most other countries, Indians have the choice of being bound by their own personal laws in matters of marriage and the dissolution of it. The job of the Indian judiciary is to help strike a balance between obligations and duties propagated by their religion of choice versus the law of the land.
The Indian legislature has provided for different sets of personal laws for Indian citizens in an effort to blend the two smoothly. For instance, 80% of the population is Hindu and is governed by The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 whereas Muslim marriages come under Dissolution of Marriage Act, 1939 and The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.
On the other hand, countries like USA have separate laws that are created and presided over by state-governed entities. Each state has its own set of laws since USA follows a federal system of governance. Thus, the laws laid down and applicable in New York differ from those applicable in the courtrooms of Alabama. India has always allowed for legal separation as part of its laws, irrespective of religion, caste or creed.
Conversely, countries like Brazil allowed marriage to be dissolved only after the 1970s. This was due to the fact that 95% of its population comprised Roman Catholics who were staunchly opposed to the concept of divorce.
Thus, at first instance, looking at the above mentioned data, it may be fair to suggest outright that the more traditional societies like India and China have a far a lower rate than their western counterparts primarily because of history and collective ideology. But of course that trend seems to be changing. As the country progresses and adopts notions of western thinking, the rate of people ending their marital vows is rising steadily,
However, it is also important to add that a low rate can sometimes signify the unwillingness of people to opt for it due to reasons such as dependence of women on men, as well as the social stigma attached to being a divorcée in traditional societies.
Therefore, an increasing divorce rate in India may symbolise the breakdown of the framework of family and traditional values, but conversely, it also signifies that our country is becoming progressive in its thinking especially with regard to women who are no longer afraid to walk out of their marriages where they are not treated with respect and as equals.
A recent study showed that Indian women are becoming more proactive when filing for a decree for separation in the courts. This development must be considered a major step in the liberation of women from the clutches of a predominantly patriarchal society.
Even recent efforts to introduce amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 by making the entire procedure simpler, is a positive step with the Indian law makers realising that age old laws are only hampering the effectiveness of the divorce procedure, which is now being sought by many Indian couples. The Indian society has broadened its mindset a lot on the issue of divorce.
With the advancement of technology, people have an opportunity to find their partners online, and this has also paved way for websites like Second Shadi and Divorce Matrimony. This presents a never-before-seen opportunity to Indians who are looking to get remarried to individuals who have been through and understand similar experiences.