Oil superpower Saudi Arabia recorded more than 33,900 divorce cases in 2014, nearly triple marriages and much higher than in 2013, according to official data.
The Western towns of Jeddah, Makkah and Taif maintained their position as having the highest number of divorce cases in 2014, the justice ministry said in a report published by the Saudi Arabic language daily Arar.
“There were 33,954 divorce cases in the Kingdom in 2014, nearly triple the marriage cases which stood at 11,818,” the report said.
It showed divorces in 2014 were nearly 32 per cent higher than in 2013, when they stood at 25,583 cases.
A breakdown showed there were 9,954 divorce cases in Makkah, 5,302 in Jeddah and 1,459 in Taif, with the three cities accounting for almost half the total divorce cases.
Saudi Arabia, with a population of around 21 million Saudis and nine million expatriates, has one of the highest divorce cases in the world relatives to its population.
The report did not mention divorce reasons but a recent independent local report showed there are many causes for failing marriages, including forced marriage of daughters, social barriers, lack of understanding between spouses, a general trend by men to dominate, Misyar marriage, snoring and other factors.
Nearly 80 per cent of the divorces in Saudi Arabia are a result of snoring by husbands, their lack of affection towards wives, the widespread Misyar marriage, the influence of western media and movies on Saudi women, social and tribal barriers, and other factors, according to the report.
In another report, the Saudi news network Alarabiya quoted a scholar as saying the introduction of Misyar marriage was a key 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, often for sexual relations.
Although allowed in Saudi Arabia and under Sunni Islam, Misyar is not popular with many who see it as legal prostitution. Women lose nearly all their rights in a Misyar marriage and nearly 80 per cent of Misyar relationships end in divorce.