Separation in the thousands: Sudan’s divorce crisis
The judicial authorities during the period from 2016 to 2020, numbered 270,876 divorce cases, including 48,351 in 2016, 55,478 in 2017, 59,339 in 2018, 60,202 in 2019 and 47,506 in 2020.
AlTaghyeer: Sarah Taj al-Sir
Latest statistics indicate that around 70,000 divorce were witnessed in Sudan during the year 2021, with Khartoum state ranked first in divorced couples nationwide with 93,119 divorces, followed by Gedaref with 21,280, White Nile state 18,789 cases, Gezira 17,508 cases, Nile River 15,951 cases, North Kordofan 13,675 cases, then West Kordofan 11,316.
Among the least reported divorces came Blue Nile state with 10,300 cases, 8,499 in North Darfur, 7,297 in the Red Sea, 6,568 cases in Sennar, 6,344 cases in South Darfur, 5,148 cases in East Darfur, South Kordofan 5,557 cases, and Central Darfur 1,491 cases.
A Sudanese mother of 1 who chose to withhold her name explained to AlTaghyeer, a few months after graduating from university, she opted to be traditionally wed to her neighbor, a Sudanese expat in Saudi Arabia. Less than a year later she found herself a divorcee with a newborn.
A telephone dispute over a naming ritual in Sudan concerned with the sacrifice of a sheep ended with her being divorced over the phone.
What followed was a series of disputes over custody and alimony, forcing her to resort to the court, which awarded her a small amount, which made her take up work at a private school to make ends meet for her then-infant son.
Despite her ex-husband pleading her incessantly for the past 17 years, her refusal was sterner.
In her interview with AlTaghyeer, she said: “I am happy with my life and with my son, who is about to enter university.
“Although divorce is one of the most difficult experiences, it is not the end of the world,” she added.
Psychologists, behaviorists, and clerics attribute the noticeable increase in divorce rates to several factors, most notably the pressing economic situation, in addition to other factors such as social media, but they agreed that the phenomenon is a troublesome indicator of family cohesion in Sudan.
They also expressed concerns over the psychological effects, and worries over the effect it bears socially on the children.
The pressing economic situation and the means of communication are highlighted as the biggest reasons for increased divorce rates.
Social researcher Hanan al-Jack believes that the statistics put up from time to time were mere estimates, and attributed the high divorce rates to political and economic instability in the country, as well as psychological and social incompatibility between spouses.
She told AlTaghyeer that “If we look at divorce rates, we find that they are concentrated in the 20s to 30s age group, due to the lack of awareness of the institution of marriage, and the imbalance of life balances due to the husband not fulfilling his full responsibilities.
Extramarital affairs, whether on the part of the husband or wife, are sensitive hush-hush issues according to Hanan that greatly harm marriages.
She also highlighted interference from extended families and abuse of power by the father, brothers, mother and sisters, and their violation of the rights of the woman’s marital institution.
Al-Jack went on to list the causes that lead to divorce, citing things such as “sexual impotence, family violence, verbal abuse, and the feeling of monotony which leads to sluggishness and decay in the relationship, and to separation.”
She drew attention to another point, related to working abroad and the negative impact it creates in terms of neglect and emotional coldness.
Hanan stated that women are often the ones who think of separation, and men then play the game of infidelity they know best.
She stressed that the family structure needs a solid foundation, no matter how difficult the circumstances, otherwise the marriage will turn into malice and hatred if the social reality is not addressed.
Consultant psychiatrist and neurologist Dr. Ali Baldo said that most divorces in Sudan take place in an unfriendly manner and are followed by court procedures such as alimony, child support and damages.
In his interview with AlTaghyeer, he stated that the steady increase of 7 cases per hour was a dangerous indicator for the Sudanese family and leads to serious psychological and social effects on children and partners.
“Attempting to involve children in problems and lure them towards one of the parents leads to many complications, and the children feel shaky, distrustful, conflicting feelings, and emotional disturbances, as well as a kind of psychological imbalance, moving between homes, weak academic performances, and immunodeficiency,” he added.
Divorce, Ransom and Celebrations
Baldo confirmed that recently, many women have been wishing for divorce and actively seeking it.
“The matter reached the point of celebrations following the separation and the riddance of the huband’s oppression,” a matter which he considered a qualitative leap.
He warned that that this could lead to weakening the family and endanger its foundation,.
Baldo believes in different treatments, such as more family counseling centers, psychological and social support, research centers and premarital examination, establishing early warning centers for marital disputes, or reaching the “ideal divorce” in an amicable manner, preserving the dignity of the family, and the humanity and the rights of children.
The Islamic Fiqh Academy attributed the growth of divorce mainly to smart devices and social networks, and said that it has become a major cause in many divorce cases in countries, prompted by a spouse simply finding a picture or message the other’s cellular device.
The academy included in its list of reasons wrong choices, lust, haste, money, and expatriation.
Dr. Hatem Idris revealed in his paper on the causes of divorce, in a workshop organized by the complex last year, the impact of psychological stress plays in divorce.
Referring to a study organized by the Family and Society Department, on the 40% increase in divorce in the country, Hatem stated that some studies have confirmed that psychological stress was responsible for 4% of divorce cases.