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Home » News » General » Divorce rate skyrocketing – court records

Divorce rate skyrocketing – court records

Publishing Date : 11 September, 2017

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

Many married couples in Botswana are continuously opting for divorce and the number is increasing annually - records from High Court of Botswana indicate.


The statistics paint a dire picture of the current status of divorce in the country. Weekend Post has established that as the marriages increases, the divorce rate also shoots up as far as registered cases at the High Court are concerned. According to the statistics, just this year 2017 to date, 893 divorce cases have already been registered with the High Court. In this number 237 cases have been completed and 656 are still pending. Before the year, in 2016, a soaring number of 1316 cases were recorded still at the High court while 604 have been completed and 712 are still pending.


The numbers have increased from 2015 in which 1190 were registered, which was also an increase from 1088 in 2014. According to the official statistics, since 2013 to date, a whopping 5648 cases were registered for divorce and the number is expected to puff up. More statistics point out that divorce rate in Botswana has been increasing over the years registering 56% in 2008 while 2009 was 60% whereas in 2010 the rate was 70% and it has been relatively and steadily increasing since then.


Earlier this year, in February, at the official opening of the legal year in Gaborone, Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo noted that as per court statistics, cases registered in 2016 were very high as compared to cases recorded prior in 2012. According to the Chief Justice, the statistics show that people no longer respect marriage and that the marital vows are no longer sacred as they used to be in the past. “I am constrained, as I have done in the 2011 and 2013 Legal Year Addresses, to express concern regarding the high divorce rate for a small population as ours. My interactions also reveal that my concerns are not misplaced as they are similarly shared out there,” the Chief Justice pointed out then.


He added that though there is no magic wand to this matter, suffice to state, that as a nation we must arrest the situation by utilising the time tested restorative interventions and the traditional extended family system to keep the marriage and family set-up intact. Dibotelo also told the gathering at the legal year that Psychologists say children are the most affected by the escalating divorce rates. He also observed that, anyone, irrespective of their station in life, may find themselves having to evoke the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act, CAP 29:06 seeking for a divorce.


Research turned up indicates that in our legal system in Botswana, an applicant can divorce on one of the four grounds provided by the relevant Act. Adultery; Unreasonable behaviour; Desertion for a period exceeding 2 years; and Living apart for a continuous period of more than 2 years and with the other party consenting to the divorce are said to be some of the grounds for divorce at court. Weekend Post has established that the escalating divorce cases have been relatively correlating with the increasing number of marriages over the years.


According to Statistics Botswana data from the Department of Civil and National Registration (CNR), trends in Marriages between 2005 and 2014, the number of marriages registered was on an increase. “Marriages increased drastically from 4,601 in 2011 to 5,214 in 2012 and continued to steadily increase to 5,591 in 2014,” the statistics indicate. The trend only shows a downward spiral during the period 2009 to 2011 which incidentally was the period when the world was experiencing an economic downturn.


The statistics report also shows that the highest proportion of marriages was registered in Gaborone, which accounted for about 12 percent of all marriages. It was closely followed by Kweneng East, and then Ngwaketse South. Ngamiland West registered the least number of marriages constituting 0.1 percent of all marriages. It indicates that the proportions of males and females marrying differ across different occupations. In 2014, the highest proportion (15.8 percent) of males marrying fell within the category of legislators, administrators and managers. Marriage for females was highest (34.6 percent) for those who were not employed.


The crude marriage rate gives the number of persons marrying within a specified time period per 1,000 population of all ages. The report shows that the crude marriage rate for Botswana is steadily increasing from 4.54 in 2011 to 5.45 marriages per 1,000 population in 2014. The crude marriage rate was highest in 2007 and 2008 with around 6 per 1,000 population. The report at the marriage section includes time series table of marriages that occurred from 2005 to 2014. It also includes tables on age at marriage, previous marital status, profession of both the groom and bride and the district of marriage.


According to a renowned Social Worker lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB), Kgomotso Jongman, some people get into marriage for the wrong reasons, and that’s is why the divorce rates are escalating at the alarming rate. He told Weekend Post that some people are enthralled by a wedding day as opposed to marriage or life after the wedding day, and this mostly spells doom for the future of them in marriage as it may lead to divorce. “We need to understand more about marriage and wedding. I have observed that in some instances people get fascinated by a mere wedding day as opposed to a marriage. So they eventually cannot cope. For them it is all about the white dress, exclusive rings and their friends admiring at them,” Jongman said.


The academic added that there is also a societal pressure from all corners including from work coallegues, from church, relatives and the community, people on social media all wanting you to get married. They may say that you are getting old and you need to get married, he observed. So the problem, the marriage Counsellor said is that people are not marrying because they are ready but rather want to fulfill the societal pressure. The Social worker at the highest institution of learning also pointed out that the world we live in is more “materialistic” and so the people are marrying for materials.


“People nowadays want partners with lots of resources so that they may divorce them later so as to benefit handsomely out of the deal. They are attracted to materials. Sometimes they stick around with their partners for 2 years and seek divorce then court grant them divorce,” he highlighted. The pre-marital, marital and post marital Counselor, through his observation and interaction with the married, said some get hitched at an early age when their maturity is wanting. For example Jongman said he has witnessed some tertiary students getting married and later divorcing when the going gets tough.


“In terms of the students for instance, issues of unemployment contributes, as they want security. After they graduate and after finding a job for themselves sometimes they opt out.” Husband, he explained that only have control while the young woman is not yet working, and after they find work they do as they please. This leads to insecurity and abuse, and then they later withdraw from home followed by divorce, he said. The Social Worker said divorce has awful implications particularly for children.


“When parents divorce, it’s dire for children. They never involve children, or want to know their emotions on the matter. Next thing they say children should choose which parent to go stay with and I wonder how do we expect children to choose between their parents?” he wondered. The professional marriage Counselor hinted that following a divorce, the children’s emotions then become unstable and depressed and others eventually commit suicide feeling that they may have contributed to their parents’ divorce.

On the divorcing parties and for the mere fact that they invested feelings – divorce is emotionally draining and also leaves couples financially exhausted. “To re-adjust to life without the other partner takes time. Others jump into the next relationship prematurely while others would not want to get in a relationship anymore.” The society on the other hand discriminate divorcees and look at them as failures.

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