Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Poll: most blame divorce on women

Survey reveals attitudes towards divorce - and divorced women - across the region.

Women are still less likely than men to bounce back in the eyes of society from a failed marriage, a new survey finds.

After divorce they are labelled as unwanted, are pitied, and are usually blamed for having failed to keep their former husband happy.

Of the 134 UAE residents people surveyed for Al Aan TV's Nabd al Arab (Arabs' Pulse) programme by the polling company YouGov, half (51 per cent) agreed that divorce was generally considered to be the result of a women not keeping her husband satisfied.

The survey quizzed 2,007 people across the Arab world from January 29 to February 8. Across the board the UAE responses were in the same range as the pan-Arab responses, and sometimes only decimal points apart.

Two thirds (66pc) of respondents in the UAE believed the most common reason for divorce was failing to see eye to eye, followed by falling out of love (41pc), and infidelity (39pc).

And most (60pc) thought that divorce was justified when a partner had cheated.

Wedad Lootah, an Emirati writer and family counsellor, said cheating was all too common. "Locals here do not have sex education as much as the expats," she said. "This contributes to the high level of adultery, but it is not just locals, but also expats who commit adultery here.

"I see local men married to a woman and treat her poorly, but give everything to their other lovers, why?

More than half of UAE respondents (54pc) thought the primary underlying reason for divorce was that a lack of expericence led people to choose the wrong spouse.

"Arab men do not consider factors like age or education level in marriage," Dr Ahmad Alomosh, chairman of the sociology department at the University of Sharjah. "It is usual for an uneducated man to marry someone more educate here, then there would be no agreement or harmony in the relationship."

Four in five (80pc) UAE respondents thought that Arab society judged divorced women more harshly than men.

And three in four (75pc) believe it is harder for divorced women to remarry, either because she would no longer be a virgin (59pc), or have lost her youth (51pc).

Even were she a virgin following divorce, only one in 10 (10pc) believe she would stand a chance of remarriage. The same (11pc) applied if she were still young.

Dr Alomosh disagreed, saying other factors played a bigger role in leaving women as spinsters while divorce men enjoy a second spin at bachelorhood and the prospect of remarriage.

"Men don't suffer as much as women," he said. "Men think they can compensate women with money, but psychological suffering is even deeper for women."

He said women are more in touch with reality than men.

"A woman cannot run away from her past like a man," he said. "Men usually remarry after a divorce to run away from their old life."

More than two in five UAE respondents (44pc) said people in general pitied divorced women for being unlikely to get married again - and almost a quarter (24pc) said people looked down on them for "bringing shame to the family".

Of the UAE residents who responded to the Al Aan survey, 13 per cent were Emirati and the rest were from other Arab nations, primarily Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

In 2008, the UAE's divorce rate was put at 40 per cent. Some 3,855 divorces were recorded that year, including 1,737 Emirati couples and 676 Emirati men married to foreign women.

Those figures have since dipped - in 2010 there were 3,459 divorces, with 1,486 Emirati couples and 583 Emirati men divorcing expatriate wives.

But not one respondent believed the divorce rate was declining.

"Life is very demanding these days," said Dana Shadid, a producer and project manager of Nabd Al Arab. "But a marriage is also sacred and a couple should not give up so easily and bolt."


Updated: March 3, 2012 04:00 AM