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After Covid-19 pandemic, rise in recorded divorce cases

Sunday November 20 2022
Divorce pic

Divorce cases are surging in Rwanda, as many newly married couples throw in the towel on their marriages. Picture: Cyril Ndegeya

By MOSES K. GAHIGI

Kigali authorities and the civil society are raising the alarm over rising number of divorce cases some coming up hardly a year after marriage.

Family law practitioners that Rwanda Today talked to say although divorces cases have been rapidly rising since 2016, cases significantly shot up in the past three years among couples that got married during the coronavirus pandemic period.

According to Ninette Umurerwa, the National Executive Secretary of Haguruka, a civil society organisation that offers legal support to women and children, the surge in divorce cases is especially among young couples below 35 years of age.

“Divorce cases are growing by the day, they have come among our top three most handled cases in the past five years.”

She cited economic violence, infidelity, harassment and conflict on family property as the common causes of divorce. She said family conflicts intensified since the pandemic broke out in 2020, as couples spent a long time together in confinement. This close time together led to harassment and gender-based violence.

“Women are filing for divorce more. What we have seen is that after many women lost their small businesses during the pandemic, they were seen as useless by some husbands which sparked conflicts that ended in divorce for many couples,” she noted.

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Livingstone Mwesigye, a family lawyer with CM advocates, says among the increasing divorce cases are very young couples, which have been in marriage for six months to one year, with as low as one month.

“I recently handled a case of a couple divorcing after just one month, some divorce after just a few months”

He said in a month they receive between 5 to 10 divorce cases, and that the common causes are misuse of family pressures, violence and high expectations.

“Many young people are getting married out of irrational pressures and insecurities, some go with very high expectations hence the high divorce rates,” said Mwesigye.

Majority of divorces cases in the country are fi led by women, and many of the cases end up dragging on for long because couples often fail to agree on division of property, which are normally 50/50.

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