Why It’s (Mostly) Bad That India Has More Divorced Women Than Men

Why is it that more women are divorced or separated in India than men?

4 min read
Hindi Female

Triple talaq may affect just a small percentage of Muslim women, but divorced women in India have a number of things in common. A study by IndiaSpend in 2016 shows that across communities, with the exception of Sikhs, more women remain divorced than men.


Data on separation further illuminates the gender bias, where many more women are registered as separated than men across communities.

It really is easier for men.
Across the board, after a divorce, and it doesn’t matter from which class, men find it easier to re-marry. Some women may find a partner, but most do not. You just live the rest of your life rearing your children. It is easier for an older man to find a younger woman but hard for an older woman to find a man who will commit. 
Nalini Rajan, Author: The Story of Secularism, Professor at Asian College of Journalism
Does she know her rights and have some income?
That I had an education and a career helped me economically and emotionally through my divorce. My work helped me get back on my feet. I felt I could be a single mother to my three daughters and could pursue a divorce and not remarry. But I have an education and know my rights. I have seen several Muslim women without an education and non-Muslim women who don’t.
Maimoona Badsha, Working Single Parent 
Opportunity and Choice
Middle-class women and those from conservative families, who are working women, start to cherish their freedom. Like some Tamil Brahmin women who, after divorce, work, live independently and don’t want to remarry. Either that or the baggage of the earlier marriage makes it hard for women to trust themselves and their partner-to-be.
SP Aarthi, Practising Lawyer

A study on Gender and Literacy published in the Wire in September 2016 shows that in all religions there is a gap between men and women, the highest being with Hindus.

With much less participation in the workforce it is harder for women across communities to opt out of bad marriages.

Without education a woman tends to stay in an abusive relationship because she feels she has no economic rights. Without knowing their rights, Muslim women don’t know where to go. Christian women may be better educated but they come with the baggage that divorce is a sin. It’s hard for them to let that go. Many Hindu women are abandoned. They languish, don’t go to court, hoping their husbands will take them back. They need to be told, ‘These are your rights, this is where you can go for justice.’
Flavia Agnes, Lawyer and Gender Activist
The State should take serious note of all issues affecting Indian women. Triple Talaq is totally wrong but it is not the major problem facing the majority of Muslim women. Illiteracy is. 48 percent of Muslim women are illiterate. If these Indian women were given an education, just think of the progress the country could make.
Faizur Rahman, Islamic Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought

Another study on divorce and separation based on the 2011 Indian Census suggests that higher divorce rates can be seen as women having more agency to divorce in a matrilineal society. This reflects in the higher divorce rates and female literacy rates of Mizoram and Meghalaya where matrilineal customs are common, and the lower divorce and female literacy rates seen in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan which are seen to be more patriarchal.

In a matrilineal society where a woman has a share in her family land and the wife is not totally dependent on her husband, divorce can be empowering. But in a society where as it is there are low education levels and where there is vulnerability, the effect of an instant divorce can be drastic.
Zakia Soman, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan

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