Indian Divorce Rate Doubles

NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 31, 2010: It is wedding season in India, the time of year when astrologers say the omens are best for a long and successful marriage. Traditionally these were arranged by the two families and the weight of social pressure ensured divorces hardly ever happened. But as it grows wealthier, so India’s old taboos are being challenged, and the chances of this year’s newly-weds staying together for the rest of their lives are slimmer than ever.

“There has been a huge change, a drastic change and divorce rates are increasing,” Dr. Geetanjali Sharma, a marriage counsellor working in Gurgaon, a wealthy Delhi satellite city, told the BBC. “There’s been a 100% increase in divorce rates in the past five years alone.” Most of those splitting up are members of India’s thriving, urban middle class whose lives have been transformed by India’s boom, and whose aspirations are radically different to those of their parents and grandparents.

The pressures of the modern workplace make a bigger difference, Sharma thinks, than whether it was a traditional arranged marriage, or a so-called “love marriage”. “I feel people are concentrating more on the careers and less on their personal lives,” she said. “I also feel they lack patience and tolerance. They don’t want to put more efforts into a relationship to fix the issues, and they feel that escapism is the solution.”

India still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, with about one in 1,000 marriages collapsing, according to recent studies. But the courts are now seeing so many new cases that the government has proposed making divorce easier and faster, in line with other countries. As things stand, contested divorces can drag on for years.

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