EDITORIAL: There are just too many divorces

WICKNELL Chivayo and Sonja Madzikanda have broken up, seven years after they became husband and wife.

Their story has been the story of the week in this country, when it comes to social issues, and we have even dubbed it the ‘Divorce Of The Year.’

We know that divorce is something which is quite a painful exercise.

But, we also know that it’s one of the harsh realities of our world that divorces will happen one way or the other.

While Wicknell and Sonja have attracted the attention because of their high profile, the reality is that they are not the only ones who are divorcing.

This is what is worrying us because we have been seeing the number of divorces exploding in this country.

Earlier this month, we reported that divorce cases in Harare have surged with 247 applications filed at the High Court since the beginning of the year. We reported that 31 cases have already been finalised, while three have been withdrawn.

The figures from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) revealed that the trend of increasing divorce cases has been continuing since 2020.

In 2020, a total of 1 117 divorce applications were filed across the country, and the figure shot up to 1 352 in 2021.

In 2022, 1 731 were recorded, and the figure doubled last year to 2 735 cases countrywide against 13 436 recorded marriages.

There are concerns that figures could be much higher due to unregistered customary marriages, which are often terminated without involving the courts. 

Padare Men’s Forum director, Paul Gatusa, said economic challenges and the decay of the extended family system were the major causes of the breakdown of most marriages.

Dr Shelter Shenjere, a marriage counsellor, also shared disturbing statistics.

She revealed that at least two out of seven marriage-counselling cases she handles per week end in divorce.

“People no longer respect the institution of marriage. Divorce has been normalised as one of the ‘best’ ways of revenge or money-making schemes,” said Dr Shenjere.

In March last year, our sister newspaper, Chronicle, reported that there had been a 100 percent increase in divorce cases in 2022, a development that counsellors and analysts said was a cause for concern.

The newspaper noted that although divorce is often deemed as a solution to toxic relationships, it negatively impacts both parties, their children, family and community at large as health experts say divorce and separation are often associated with increased anxiety and depression as well as increased risk of alcohol abuse.

Causes of divorce range from infidelity, financial challenges, lack of communication and intimacy, violence within the marriage institution and unresolved disputes.

Statistics from the Judicial Service Commission showed that in 2020, 1 117 couples filed for divorce and the figure went up to 1 351 the following year.

Last year however, the figure doubled to 2 735 cases against 13 436 recorded marriages. In essence, 20 percent of Zimbabwean marriages are likely to end in divorce.

For us, these statistics are worrying.

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