In the last few days BBC News Asia has reported on the human rights crisis brewing in Tajikistan, due to the growing number of wives who are being divorced by their husbands, working away in Russia, via text message or brief phone call.
Tajikistan shares a border with northern Afghanistan, and is one of the few Muslim nations where husbands are able to divorce their wives simply by repeating the word ‘taloq’ (meaning divorce) three times. In 2012, the divorce rate officially went up by 14.3%, but the true figure is likely to be higher as many rural marriages and divorces are not registered.
This divorce practice has been outlawed by the Tajikistan State Religious Affairs Committee but it is still growing. Life is subsequently hard for wives abandoned by their husbands, who often have many children to support, without any hope of receiving maintenance from their former husbands. Human Rights groups are trying to help but in the absence of a reliable system of family law, a crisis is sadly emerging.
Tajikistan is poor, and this situation often forces children to look for work (even though child labour is illegal). Worse still, it is reported that mothers, desperate to find the means to support their children, resort to abandoning them in orphanages while they travel to Russia themselves, to find work.
The merits of the ‘quickie divorce’ are debated from time to time in the UK. However the current crisis in Tajikistan perhaps shows that the social cost involved in dissolving marriages quickly, and without taking the time to establish proper financial support for dependents, is simply not worth paying.