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Divorce cases on the rise in Singapore

June 27, 1999

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SINGAPORE'S GROWING awareness among women of their rights has seen an increase in divorce cases in Singapore, which rose by 16 percent to more than 5500 in 1998 from a year earlier, the Sunday Times reported.

Among non-Moslems, divorce was granted to 4186 couples last year, a 14 percent rise from 1997, while among Moslems, divorce rose by 21 percent to 1465 cases, according to official figures.

Lawyers and marital counselors said the rise in divorce cases was unsurprising, since more women did not hesitate to bring their husbands to court if they felt they were being abused or treated unreasonably.

"In the past, women would be more willing to put up with their husbands, but now, they are more aware of their rights," lawyer Tan Sei Bee told the paper.

"The general feeling among lawyers is to expect a further increase in the number of divorces," he added.

But others felt the economic turmoil which hit Singapore in mid-1997 and escalated last year may have played a part in divorces.

"The economic downturn can be a driving force because it tests tolerance levels to the limit," said Jamaliah Abdul Rahim, family development department manager of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.

Divorces among Moslem and non-Moslem couples were highest among males aged 30 to 34, and women aged 35 to 39, the figures showed.

Chinese, Indians, Malays and Eurasians make up the ethnic groups in Singapore's population of more than three million. Most Malays are Moslem. Return Home