Like all break-ups, divorce can be an equally, if not more upsetting and emotionally draining process. Once completed, former couples are free to continue life as they please with some choosing to remarry and begin a new family.
However if you hone in on the Asian community and look past all the smiles, tradition and culture, you will find a plethora of stigmas and attitudes attached to those who divorce, making the process a daunting and isolating one.
An increasing number of Asian women are having to bear the brunt of this backlash as divorce rates within the Asian community grows, despite the overall percentage of divorces in the UK decreasing.
The National Office of Statistics says that “based on marriage, divorce and mortality statistics for 2010, it is estimated that the percentage of marriages ending in divorce is 42%, compared with 45% in 2005.”
Priya Chandra who writes for DESIblitz said:
British Asian marriages are collapsing at an alarming rate. Many within the first year of marriage and often include couples that have dated for a long period prior to marriage too. Reasons for marriage break-up includes boredom, lack of interest in a partner, in-law pressures, intolerance of each other, money and work pressures, arranged marriages and extra-marital affairs.”
Whether or not couples are prepared for what married life has to offer, divorcing doesn’t only mean a split between yourself and your spouse. It also sets the wheels in motion for a very different dynamic between yourself and your community.
The stigmas that currently exist amongst Asians frankly disgusts me, as most of the disdain and pity are aimed solely at women.
Writer, Ayesha Khan, describes the plight divorced Asian women face.
From the pity and even scorn of relatives and the sympathies towards parents, the Asian woman is treated as shop soiled, and a failure. Her inability to hang onto her man is derided and seen as a weakness or an illness.
But that’s not the shocking part of it all. Divorce is a social issue that threatens a family’s reputation in the eyes of their community. In order to protect this, parents and in-laws insist on their children remaining in unhappy and hopeless marriages for the sake of showing their faces in public.
Why should women stay in marriages that no longer satisfies them, but pleases a community who are willing to turn their backs the very second a split takes place?
These mindsets create the belief that a divorced woman has no future in terms of remarriage and finding someone who looks beyond their marital status. It is this kind of thinking that stops them from seeking a way out from a life of misery, and even drives them to suicide.
The stigma attached to such women is shocking; suddenly the woman should give up all future thoughts of marriage and survive ‘just for the children’. The few Asian men who do look at that woman do so with an air of pity, and make the woman feel she should be grateful for a man taking her and her burdens on.
However, an evolution is slowly simmering where women are concerned. Once expected to raise the children, maintain the family home and abide by their in-laws, women are now pursuing higher education and careers that make them independent, ambitious and open to opportunities outside of their community.
It is also giving them the strength to walk away from relationships and marriages that are humiliating, and unfulfilling. Being ostracised doesn’t even factor into the equation where their happiness is concerned. And it shouldn’t.
A lot has to be said for these women. Their bravery in the face of adversity should be an example for others. I’m not saying divorce is a wonderful thing, but it is a right given to us both legally and religiously. More often than not, culture is the culprit that prevents a fulfilling and happy life.
The marriage landscape is definitely changing with women taking a stand against chauvinistic, unfaithful and abusive men. Only now are women seeing that they live in a modern society where there are organisations and services that can support and help them bounce back after a divorce. And only now do they see the harmony they can finally achieve by grabbing these opportunities.
So rather than pity the woman who divorces and escapes a life of misery and degradation, feel sorry for the woman who conforms to these mindsets and chooses to stay, never fully tasting the fruits life has to offer.