COVID-19 :Saudi Arabia sees a rise in Divorce cases as women find out husbands married to others in secret


In Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 crisis, observers noted a 30 per cent increase in requests for divorce and Khula’, a procedure through which a woman can divorce her husband in Islam, by returning the dowry (mahr) or something else that she received from her husband, as agreed by the spouses or court decree.

Among the cases are female doctors, community women and employees who were forced to request annulment of their marriage after they discovered their husbands had married other women in secret, according to Okaz newspaper.

The pandemic, home quarantine and the curfew contributed to uncovering what was hidden, and the courts’ family counsellors try to bridge the rift between the couples away from court sessions to protect families and prevent the dispersion of children.

A woman seeking annulment or Khula’ needs specific procedures to fulfil her request with the return of the husband’s dowry and she may request annulment without compensation if she proves that she has been harmed by the husband.

Self-isolation promotes marital bonds

Talal Muhammad Al Nashiri, social worker and head of the Jeddah Therapy Association, said marital relations differ from one person to another, and they become more coherent and stronger when an external threat to the individual, family or society occurs.

“We observe the cohesion of members of society and their solidarity in facing diseases, epidemics and disasters, and this is the nature of human beings who unite and show more cohesion against external influences. We also observe a large percentage of society members who apply isolation and care for the safety of family and community members,” he said.

From this standpoint, he added, isolation strengthens family relations and increases family bonding with their participation in all matters of family life.

The electronic portal of the Ministry of Justice revealed that the number of marriage contracts made in February reached 13,000, an increase of 5 per cent over the marriage contracts made in the same month last year, and the marriage contracts whose parties are Saudis represented 88 per cent of the total marriage contracts in the Kingdom.

Statistics showed 45 per cent of the total marriage contracts were made in Makkah and Riyadh.

The number of marriage contracts made daily in Saudi courts ranged between 285 and 938 before the coronavirus crisis.

On the other hand, the number of divorce deeds for the February reached 7,482, and 52 per cent of the total divorce deeds were made in Makkah and Riyadh, while the number of divorce deeds made daily across the Kingdom ranged between 163 and 489 before the coronavirus pandemic, and the number of monthly divorce deeds ranged between 3,397 and 7,693 over the past 12 months.

Sources said the electronic portal of the Ministry of Justice has stopped publishing any statistics since February because of the suspension of work at the courts.

Where is affection and compassion?

The executive supervisor of the Takamul Aid Initiative, Manal Al Harthy, said that marital relations were not immune to the pandemic, as wives resorted to law firms to request divorce during the pandemic, and some of them filed an electronic lawsuit immediately after receiving legal advice to know the required steps, . She added that divorce occurs at any time and has no reason or occasion other than fuelling anger between the two spouses, and may not be documented in court immediately, and the husband may review relations his wife.

Law offices recorded a remarkable increase in requests for divorce, Khula, and annulment of marriage of about 30 per cent during the coronavirus crisis,

Some 22 cases were filed by teachers, doctors, and businesswomen, and the lawyer and judicial notary Saleh Musfer Al Ghamdi said he received five divorce requests within two weeks from wives, including doctors and businesswomen. “Among them is a doctor who discovered that her husband married secretly to an Arab resident,” Al Ghamdi said.