Attitudes towards divorce

In Egypt, given generalized anxiety over divorce—especially that of newly-weds—in Egypt, it is interesting to note that few of the ever-married youth in the 2009 national survey of young people were themselves divorced: at most, 2%. Following national trends (which include their parents’ and grandparents’ generations), the highest rates of divorce were among the least educated and poorest youth, although they were also the most firmly convinced that divorced women were frowned upon in society.  When asked to consider reasons for marital breakup, strong majorities of young men and women thought that a wife was justified in seeking divorce if her husband regularly beat her; a one-off thrashing, however, was considered insufficient grounds. Most of the men and women surveyed also thought a wife should walk out if her husband expropriates her assets, as well as if he “talks to other women” or takes another wife; interestingly, while more than three-quarters of men thought a wife was within her rights to ask for divorce if her husband suffers from sexual dysfunction, less than half of the women surveyed thought the same.

Men and women were more divided when it came to husbands divorcing their wives: while more than half of men thought it was justified in the case of a wife disrespecting his family, disobeying his orders, not looking after the children, only two-fifths or less of women agreed on these points. Again, women were more forgiving of sexual dysfunction: while more than three-fifths of men thought husbands were on solid ground seeking divorce if their wives had sexual problems, only two-fifths of women thought the same.

For how youth in Kuwait view divorce—and particularly those who themselves come from broken homes, see “Attitudes of Kuwaiti Young Adults toward Marriage and Divorce” in Advances in Social Work, by Humoud Alqashan and Hayfaa Alkandari. Attitudes toward marriage, and divorce, across the Arab region are probed by Brigitte Khoury and Yasmine Fayad in “Defining Partner Relational Problems in the Arab Region” in Family Problems and Family Violence: Reliable Assessment and the ICD-11.