08 Jun 2024, 17:39
Update : 08 Jun 2024, 19:05

Divorced women needs mental health care for ensuring normal life: experts

DHAKA, June 8, 2024 (BSS) - Negar Sultana and Jahir Rana were considered as perfect couples among friends and family. Negar is a senior official at a United Nations agency here in Dhaka, while Jahir was working as a top official for an international consulting firm. They came close to each other because of their career in international agencies and soon fell in love, and what followed was like a dream come true wedding.
The first two years after the marriage were almost like a honeymoon period. But Negar was first hit hard by the careerist title given to her by Jahir. He was soon complaining about her dedication towards work as negligence in family affairs.

As Negar got promoted soon and started earning as much as Jahir, or even more than him, his male ego was pounded. He even started raising doubts about Negar's character and was abusing her verbally regularly, following occasional assaults. Negar was forced to file for divorce as things became more and more toxic between them.
According to the statistics of Dhaka North and South City Corporations, on average 37 divorces took place a day in the capital in 2022. Of these, women filed for divorce more than the men. Of each 10 divorce applications, almost 7 were filed by the women.
According to noted sociologists, jurists, and mental health experts, in present reality, the obloquy that women are the driving force behind destroying a family, has become almost like a readymade thing. Such blame games and slandering have left the social lives and mental health of thousands of women under severe threat. The experts, regardless of their field of expertise, have called unanimously for ensuring the protection of the mental health and well-being of women to take society forward.
According to a recent report by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the divorce rate in the country remained upward in the last 15 years. According to Dhaka North and South City Corporations, a total of 13,288 divorce petitions were filed in 2022 in the capital. Of these, 7,698 divorces took place in Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) areas. Of these 7,698 divorces, 5,383 were filed by the women. In DNCC areas, 65 percent of the total divorce pleas were filed by women. According to the Barishal City Corporation data, women filed 131 divorce petitions, compared to 76 applications filed by men from July 2022 to March 2024.
According to Neena Goswami, director of Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), most of the married girls are victims of physical and mental abuse at their husband's place. When their backs are against the wall due to constant abuse, they have no choice but to decide on divorce. Among them only educated and self-respecting women can easily decide on divorce.
As a result of empowerment, the self-esteem of women has increased along with financial independence in the country. Sociologists find a link between divorce and family violence. According to the data from various studies, there are several scientific reasons behind the increase in divorce rate or not being able to have a family. Psychiatrists attribute extramarital affairs, inability or lack of marital life, and unfulfilled or unsatisfied sex life as the biggest causes of divorce.

Along with this, there are reasons such as a change in people's society, discrimination between men and women, prejudice, ignorance, illiteracy, child marriage, and dowry, as well as mental crisis and tension.

Among its main causes are obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, mood disorders, personality disorders, and drug addiction. There are also other disorders that couples do not want to talk about. These include - physical disabilities and sexual disorders. In addition, family quarrels, physical and mental abuse, drug abuse, separation from the expatriate husband, suspicion, indifference, personality conflict, and excessive ambition are also the reasons for divorce in many cases.
About the psycho-social impact of divorce on women's lives, Dr. Mahbooba Nasreen, the country's renowned sociologist and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of Bangladesh Open University, said, "Generally, if you look at the law in the case of divorce, it will be seen that the 'Divorce Act' is from 1969. However, according to that act, both husband and wife get the right to divorce. But the law is ancient. Also, post-divorce women do not get the same social support that men do. Due to the social identity of men and women in society or gender differences, the negative impact of separation is more on women. Therefore, to help women turn around in this new life, the state, society, family, and colleagues in her professional field should extend emotional support by playing the role of counselor."
According to a joint survey -- performed by National Institute of Mental Health and World Health Organization in 2006 -- on mental health problems, 16.1 percent of the total population of Bangladesh suffers from various mental problems. A survey by the National Trauma Counseling Center also found that married women between the age of 25 and 30, who visit the center, have higher rates of depression than single women.
Stressing on ensuring the mental health protection of women after separation, mental health expert and National Health Institute Professor Meghla Sarkar said that any separation creates human trauma for both men and women. Also, women especially have to face trauma or major emotional trauma due to various social and economic reasons after separation. During this time, she suffers personal, emotional, and social upheaval. Suddenly there is a lack of self-confidence in her, as a result of which women suffer from insecurity.

Multifaceted family and social pressure becomes a big challenge for her to turn around. It is especially necessary to ensure the protection of women's mental health in such fragile and vulnerable times. For this, she should be freed as much as possible from the negative social pressure related to separation with the mentality of empathy. At the same time, we should extend a hand of cooperation to her by expressing sympathy.
Women's health has always been a neglected issue in the socio-economic context of Bangladesh. However, there is hope that the government health care in Bangladesh has improved to appreciable levels in the more than five decades since independence.

The Directorate General of Health Services and the Directorate of Family Planning are working together to ensure the development of maternal health. At present, 14 thousand community clinics, 107 medical colleges, 5,182 private hospitals and clinics, around 10,400 diagnostic centers, 46 specialized hospitals, and 428 upazila health complexes are providing services in the country.



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