Divorce rates jump in Indonesia after reforms


Jakarta : Women’s emancipation and political differences have contributed to a sharp rise in divorce rates in Indonesia since democratic reforms were introduced more than 10 years ago after the fall of autocratic president Suharto, the ministry of religious affairs said Thursday.

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The divorce rate has increased steadily every year during the past decade and, during last year, 10 in 100 marriages ended in divorce, the ministry said in a news release posted on its website.

The ministry said two million couples get married every year in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.

In Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya, 80 percent of 48,374 recorded divorces were initiated by women while in the capital, Jakarta, women filed 60 percent of the 5,193 divorces, the statement said without giving a timeframe for those figures.

Nasaruddin Umar, the ministry’s director general for Islamic community guidance, said divorces triggered by differences in political views increased every year and the trend was cause for concern.

“Political issues are short-lived, but family is a lifetime matter, and even beyond a lifetime,” he said in the statement.

Nasaruddin said he believed that more and more women were filing for divorces because they believed they had the same rights as men.

“Whether this is awareness or an excess, it’s something that we have to pay attention to,” he said.

Under Indonesian marriage laws, men and women have equal rights.

He also said the majority of divorces were caused by general family disharmony while economic factors came second.

Suharto resigned in 1998 amid widespread unrest and clamour for democratic reforms after 32 years of autocratic rule. He died in January 2008.