October 6, 2010
Those who believe that skyrocketing divorce rates are a “western world” phenomenon need look no further than Malaysia to shatter that view, because divorce rates in that country have increased a whopping 105% over the past 8 years.
As reported by the New Straits Times, the surprising statistic comes via researcher John Emmanuel Kiat, a Statistics and Cognition tutor at the HELP University College. Kiat compared divorce rates in 2002 and 2009, and noted an increase from 16,013 to 32,763 – or 105%.
While Kiat considers all of this to be “statistically significant,” it’s a more outspoken assessment by Anjli Doshi-Gandhi of Malaysia’s National Population and Family Development Board, which counsels 700-800 troubled couples a year, that gets to the heart of the issue: the public's perception of the institution of marriage is changing.
"[In the past], being divorced was embarrassing and families lost face,” Doshi-Gandhi commented. “Now, people are more open. Times have changed…[but] marriages must be strengthened. We don't want what's happening in developed countries, where divorce rates are very high, to happen here."
Also shedding insight into the “statistically significant” crisis is Psychologist Charis Wong, who points out that many young Malaysian couples have unrealistic expectations of marriage, and fail to understand that it takes more than romantic attachment to make a marriage work; it takes share values, commitment, and old fashioned hard work.
"The moment a marriage becomes challenging, they become disillusioned, frustrated and give up easily," Wong lamented.
And it’s not just that divorces are on the way up -- fertility and marriage rates aren't keeping pace. Kiat noted that in 2002, there were 9.6 marriages for every divorce, but by 2009, that number had dipped more than 30% to 6.1.
"The high ratio of divorce over the number of marriages is a cause for concern. The rising rate may be a contributory factor to falling fertility," Wong warned.