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The World Highest Divorce Rate

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A tradition inherited from forefathers. In the middle of vast indian ocean, the islands of Maldives, remained as a wonder, a resting place, and a stop over for exhausted sailors. The crystal clear water and fine white sandy beaches, though defines the modern day Maldives, the islands were well known among the sailors and traders of indian ocean for its beauty and hospitality since 14th century. Today, world knows Maldives as a high end tourist destination for affluent Europeans.

However, the latest surveys and 800 years old written history of the Maldives reveal a startling fact about lifestyle of the islanders. The history written by various eyewitnesses and sailors over the last hundreds of years have one uncontentious account on Maldivian lifestyle, especially on marriage.

According to Ibn Battuta, a renowned 15th century Moroccan sailor, “It is easy to marry in these islands because of the smallness of the dowries and the pleasures of society which the women offer. When the ships put in, the crew marry; when they intend to leave, they divorce their wives”. The divorce and remarry was part of everyday life of the Maldivians. Battuta himself took pleasure marrying with local women. He wrote, “In these islands, I married several women;”

It would be normal for a Maldivian woman to have lived in several different houses with each marriage taking her to a new dwelling. In this journey she would normally take her children from previous marriages with her to the new dwelling. There she lives with her new husband with children from several other previous husbands until she get divorced again.

The religion and culture of the country has privileged the men, giving them the right to divorce.The women have little or no right to divorce their husband. In most cases, it is a verbal statement that husband reads to his wife in the presence of her or any other person, willing to divorce her which then constitute a legitimate divorce. However, according to Francoy Pirad, a French sailor, “The wife, too, can separate from her husband, provided he consents; otherwise not. This divorce, which is very common among them, must be made in the presence of witnesses, all or some of whom must be present when either of the parties expresses a desire to marry another”

The Maldivian attitudes toward marriage has changed only little. Even in this 21st century, with ever increased interaction with outer world and other peoples’ culture, Maldives remained as the country of the world highest divorce rate. According to survey “Top Ten Countries With Highest Divorce Rate” done by The Map of The World, Maldives get number one with having 10.97 divorce per 1000 and United State has third position with 4.19 divorce per 1000.

In summary, the simplicity of dowries and the local custom made it easier to marry in maldives and the women being liberal had the right to choose the husband indiscriminately among local men and foreign sailors. Though it contributed for substantially frequent divorce, many Maldivians found it and even today find it as a tolerable act of their society.


* Pyrard , Francois . The Voyage of Francois Pyrard of Laval to the East Indies, the Maldives, the Moluccas and Brazil. 3rd ed. 01. Paris: 1619. ch.12. Web. <http://www.maldivesculture.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=178&Itemid=58>. * Battuta, Ibn. “The Maldive Islands, Dhibat-ul-Mahal.” Maldives Culture. N.p., 1343. Web. 16 Sep 2012. <http://www.maldivesculture.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=199&Itemid=42>. * “Top Ten Countries with Highest Divorce Rates.” mapsofworld.com. mapsofworld.com, 2009. Web. 16 Sep 2012. <http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/countries-with-highest-divorce-rate-map.html>.

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