Saudi Divorce Cases Rise


The skyrocketing divorce rate shocked Nora Al-Shamlan, head of the Reserarch Center at King Saud Girls college, so much that she organized a three-day seminar in Riyadh recently to address the state of Saudi marriage.
Numerous speakers took to the dais to present papers full of statistics and studies that depict an institution – marriage – in turmoil, but one that is still far from its precarious position in the West.

The overall conclusion of the conference was that a lack of preparation for marriage was the biggest hurdle faced by young couples tying the knot for the first time. A variety of reasons were offered for this lack preparation that some contended led to a lack of realistic expectations for marriage and adult life.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, mass media took the biggest hit, with many speakers pointing to the proliferation of TV shows which do not reflect traditional, local values as a principle culprit.

Most dismaying, perhaps, was the contention in one study that 78 percent of Saudi youth rely on mass media for their sex education.

"Because the school curriculum does not address senstitive issues such as sexual education, it leaves Saudi youth with no choice but to learn about such things from the media.

Fifty-two percent get that education from TV; 38 percent get it from the Internet; 7 percent get it from newspapers; and 3 percent rely on the radio.

Additionally, one study showed Saudi youth get their ideas about family from the media, as well. One widely supported approach to stemming the surging tide of divorce was the implementation of pre-marriage courses, designed to prepare newlyweds for the ups and downs of married life. One speaker pointed to Malaysia as an example of a Muslim country that implemented such courses and succeeded in greatly reducing its divorce rates.

Not all was bad news, however, as 53 percent of married Saudis in one study claimed to be in stable marriages that celebrated mutual understanding on the parts of both spouses.

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