National Statistics Bureau’s (NSB) Bhutan Living Standard Survey 2022, divorce cases increased from 2.1 percent in 2017 to 3.4 percent in 2022. While the rapid increase in our divorce rate is worth some attention, a divorce in itself is not necessarily more tragic than an unhappy married life.
If you look it up online, the divorce rates around the world is 4.08 per 1,000 married persons as of May 2022. Divorce is becoming more widespread in today’s society. Divorce is a major source of stress in one’s life affecting people’s mental and physical health. The recent pandemic has only added more strain and caused damage to relationships. Reports say this is one major reason why divorce rates around the world remain high.
Bhutanese elders say that it is better to keep a couple together no matter how serious the problems they have with each other. Compromise is more important than anything else when it comes to the maintenance of the relationship between a husband and wife.
What we are also witnessing is an increasing number of young people who think otherwise, and they consider the quality of their marriage as more important than anything else. They will choose to separate if they don’t feel comfortable staying together. Divorce then may not be a bad thing for some.
We have witnessed many couples separate due to domestic violence resulting from alcohol problems of either party. In such cases, divorce seems to be the best option especially if the couple has children. Research shows that children who grow up in such an abusive environment will most likely grow up with a propensity for violence.
The statistics tell us that divorced men remarried more quicker than their partners in many cases. The report reveals that the number of divorced women (11,917) is almost three times the number of men with most cases happening among illiterate people and those with primary education.
The bigger problem then would be these individuals suffering from poverty. The new poverty analysis report shows that 12.4 percent of Bhutanese live under the poverty line of Nu 6,204 per person per month.
Bhutan’s lawmakers have been compassionate with the women in terms of after-divorce benefits such as alimony and monetary benefits for children. However, our inflation far exceeds the benefits pegged with the national minimum daily wage rate.
There are support systems in place to help single parents including counselling services and mental health support. In worse cases, children are moved to shelters for their safety and proper care and growth.
However, it would be simplistic to expect that making such facilities available would take care of all problems associated with divorce. The much greater challenges for us as individuals and the Bhutanese society at large are the cultural, social, and religious barriers that we face when tackling problems of such sensitivity.