Lack of intimacy in the bedroom has led to more than 1.600 divorces in Saudi Arabia over the past 15 months and most of the cases were blamed on men.
The Justice Ministry statistics showed courts in the conservative Gulf Kingdom recorded 1,371 divorce cases filed by wives because of their husbands’ reluctance to sleep with them.
The courts also finalised 283 divorces sought by husbands who accused their wives of refusing to sleep with them.
Officials said the actual number of divorces caused by such cases is actually much higher on the grounds many couples refuse to divulge private sex-related issues.
“The problems between couples in Saudi Arabia are a result of social and psychological factors or organic illnesses.
“They could also be caused by the fact that either spouse does not like or love the other.
There could also be hatred between the couples,” said Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sadhan, an Islamic studies professor at the college of technology in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
“These are very sensitive cases so the number of cases provided by courts does not reflect the real size of the problem.
“As far as I know, the courts in the country hear scores of such cases every day and some of them are settled by family advisers.”
Saudi Arabia, with a population of around 30 million, has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. Other Gulf oil producers are suffering from a similar problem, which officials have blamed on mixed marriages and other factors.
Official data published recently showed Saudi Arabia had one divorce every half an hour in 2012 and experts cited many reasons, including Misyar marriage.
In 2010, the world’s dominant oil exporter recorded 18,765 divorces, a rate of more than 35 per cent of the local marriages, according to government statistics.
“This is far above the international rate of between 18 and 22 per cent.
“In some years, it exceeded 40 per cent in the Kingdom,” said Sheikh Saeed Al Yousuf, head of courts in the northeastern Saudi town of Tabuk.
A Saudi social expert, quoted recently by the Saudi Al Arabiya news network, described the high divorce rate in the world’s oil superpower as an “alarming indicator”.
“Without measures to tackle this high rate, it will lead to serious social problems in the future,” said Mohammed Al Atiq, a well know social expert.
Al Arabiya quoted another expert as saying the introduction of Misyar marriage into the Kingdom was the main cause for the surge in divorce rates.
“Misyar is the main factor. This is because when the man’s first wife discovers that her husband married another woman under Misyar contract, he will feel danger and this will prompt him to divorce the second wife easily.
“Misyar is seen as a temporary marriage and that is why divorce rates have increased in the Kingdom,” said Sheikh Mohammed Al Falaj, a family affair consultant.
A Misyar contract is a marriage contract where couples can live separately but get together regularly.
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