Specialists, academics and Sharia judges called on the media not to provoke controversy when handling divorce-related figures and statistics and to analyze these figures scientifically by resorting to specialists and relevant authorities who can analyze and interpret these figures soundly.
During a panel discussion held by NCFA, panelists also recommended that such data should be dealt with, analyzed and interpreted accurately by scholars and specialists in the light of demographic, social and psychological variables in society. Findings can then be used to inform remedial and preventive interventions such as conducting awareness courses for prospective spouses.
Head of the Judicial Institute in Jordan Dr. Mansour At-Tawalbeh indicated that the state of controversy created by some media reports regarding divorce statistics was a direct result of handling such issues by non-professionals who have mishandled the figures or have not verified the data or its contents. At-Tarawneh confirmed the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the statistics related to divorce cases registered at the Supreme Judge Department which are authenticated by cash receipts with a zero margin of error.
In his speech, At-Tarawneh expressed the Department’s willingness to conduct free of charge advanced courses in statistical analysis for concerned individuals and media personnel to ensure the accurate analysis of the statistical data, emphasizing that the Department aims to correct the errors made and hence clear out any controversy surrounding this issue. He also called on everyone to handle this subject objectively and not to pass negative judgements as divorce can sometimes be a solution to bigger problems.
At-Tarawneh gave a briefing on the total number of divorce cases within the period of 2013-2017, indicating that the bigger number of divorce cases for males were within the age group of (30-40) years and for females (21-28) years.
“Upon reading figures of the past ten years, we find that legislative, social, informational and technological developments had a clear impact on changing divorce patterns, and for that reasons the Supreme Judge Department has prepared a set of laws and legislation to the best interests of society and individuals in line with such changes”, said Head of the Judicial Council Sheikh Kamal Al-Smadi.
He also gave an illustration of the changing patterns of divorce in reaction to legislative developments whereby there was a decrease in the numbers of registered cases of unilateral divorce by the husband and unilateral dissolution of marriage by Khulu’ for wives. This, Smadi believes, is a result of a legislatives change that allowed both spouses to petition for divorce on the grounds of discord and strife.
He also elaborated that the technological revolution and the widespread use of the social media have doubled the numbers of divorce cases via text messages which in most cases are lacking a clear will for divorce. Therefore, legislators have rejected written divorce statements that do not specifically include a clear intent and that do not fulfil the legal Sharia criteria by stipulating that divorce in writing does not take place unless the divorcer intends for it to take place.
The law has also prohibited divorce that occurs at short time intervals to address cases of recurrent divorce and divorce that is accompanied with anger at which the husband’s actions and words are overpowered by rage making him not in his usual state of mind, added Smadi.
“The Supreme Judge Department has established Mediation and Family Reconciliation Offices to dissuade spouses against divorce and identify and address reasons behind divorce; if the solution lies in divorce, the burden rests on these offices to arrive at consensual judicial solution between the two spouses that are registered in these offices rendering divorce final and enforced”, Smadi explained.
With regard to divorce statistics, head of the Social Statistics Unit in the Department of Statistics Rafi’ Ajaj gave an overview of key divorce indicators in Jordan, noting that the number of registered divorce contracts for the year 2017 reached 21,210 cases across the Kingdom where the highest crude divorce rates were found in Madaba and the lowest in Karak. Raw divorce rates reflect the prevalence of divorce in society in general, the higher the percentage, the more prevalent divorce is, Ajaj explained.
In his speech, NCFA’s Acting Secretary General Mohammad Miqdady underlined the council’s concern with highlighting issues that are of interest to society in general and Jordanian families in particular.
As Miqdady indicated, NCFA has recently been aware of the discussions handled by the media on issues related to divorce statistics and percentages drawing comparisons with other countries. Therefore, NCFA has decided to invite specialists, experts, researchers and media people to put the subject to discussion from all aspects away from personal judgments and views, added Miqdady.
In this respect, Head of the Research and Studies Unit in NCFA Mai Sultan gave a brief account of the media coverage of this issue including the numbers, indicators and comparisons used in these reports, wondering whether the figures, indicators and approaches used in these report complied with scientific research methods and whether they actually reflected the actual situation of divorce in Jordan.
A range of issues were also discussed during the session including the reasons of divorce and its psychological and social impact on family members; marked international practices on limiting divorce incidents through family counseling interventions and their implementation in Jordan; and the experience of the Mediation and Family Reconciliation Offices/Supreme Judge Department in lowering the percentage of divorce.