The Jerusalem Post

Divorce rates rising among Arab-Israelis


Divorce rates are climbing in Arab-Israeli society amid new possibilit­ies that have opened up for Arab women, with research from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev showing a correlatio­n between social change and divorce.

The Central Bureau of Statistics found that divorce rates have doubled over the last two decades.

An increasing number of Arab women with higher education have joined the workforce, resulting in later marriages, more women remaining single and a higher divorce rate, according to Dr. Maha Karkabi-Sabbah, working in the department of Sociology and Anthropolo­gy at Ben-Gurion University. Together with Prof. Adital Ben-Ari, she interviewe­d 44 divorced Israeli-Arab women, to learn of the correlatio­n between the two phenomena.

They found that statistics show that divorce is more common among couples who do not have a higher education, but when only the wife has a higher education and is able to command a higher paying job than her husband, it undermines the cultural role of the Arab man as the main provider of the family, the study showed.

When Arab women do decide to divorce, they are faced with a variety of social sanctions, the study found.

Many find it difficult to start the process because they fear the reaction of their community. This can cause them to stay in an abusive relationsh­ip, the researcher­s found.

Going through a divorce can turn into abuse in the form of a financial power hold – something which can also occur during the marriage but worsens if the couple divorces.

“He only paid alimony in the first year, afterwards he started doing all these different schemes so as to get out of it, but I was still so exhausted, I just wanted quiet and not to be dragged along to court and lawyers and so on, so I just gave up,” an anonymous Arab-Israeli woman told the researcher­s.

An additional social sanction many Arab women face is not being allowed to remarry.

Sabbah explained that when a woman requests a divorce she is accused of breaking up the family, and keeping it together is viewed as her main role.

For these reasons, divorce is viewed as a negative act. In addition, the Arab societal and cultural value of mastura (hidden) when used in relation to marriage, means not exposing a bad marriage by leaving it, the study explained.

 ?? (Miriam Alster/Flash90) ?? ARAB-ISRAELIS protest against violence in the sector earlier this year.
(Miriam Alster/Flash90) ARAB-ISRAELIS protest against violence in the sector earlier this year.

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