Authorities alarmed by high rate of divorce cases among Muslims

KUCHING: Muslim couples are getting divorced at a rate nearly double that of their non-Muslim counterparts, giving rise to alarm among the authorities.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said about 20% to 25% of Muslim marriages were dissolved every year compared to the number registered.

Last year, for example, there were 1,440 divorces against 6,772 registered marriages, while in the previous year, 1,368 couples were divorced compared to 6,711 marriages.

“The high rate of divorce cases among Muslims is alarming. On average, the number of divorces among Muslims is twice as high as among non-Muslims.

“This is a serious challenge for the Muslim society as a whole because divorces can lead to social problems such as children being abandoned and their schooling neglected,” he said when opening the state-level “Rumahku Syurgaku” seminar on family institution at Islamic Information Centre here yesterday.

Daud said records from Sarawak Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) showed that the most common reasons for marriage break-ups were financial difficulties and infidelity. Other reasons cited by the divorced couples included domestic abuse, jealousy and abandonment by either the husband or wife.

However, he said it was not known whether marrying at a young age contributed to the divorce rate. “The average age of the divorced couples is between 30 and 40 years. But whether it’s because they married young or not, we don’t have the figures and we would like this to be studied,” he said.

Daud also said Jais’ counselling unit had received a high number of complaints on household conflict, with 2,519 in 2011 and 2,257 last year. “From January to August this year, the number of complaints received by Jais was 1,036 from Kuching division alone. These statistics show that household conflict is something we need to pay more attention to.”

To address this, he said Jais and the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had set up a family and community service centre at Masjid At-Taqwa in Kampung Pinang Jawa here to provide counselling and advice on various matters.

“This is a pilot project and we hope to set up more centres if we have enough officers.”

Daud also called on Muslims to strengthen the marriage and family institution to help reduce household conflicts and divorces.

“I hope more seminars like this could be held to create healthy families and lasting marriages. This is what we want,” he added. The one-day seminar was organised by Jais and state Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

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