Matrimonial separations, divorces on the increase By HASINA MJINGO, 22nd January 2011 @ 22:00, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 22 MATRIMONIAL separations and outright divorces are on the rise. According to the Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA) the few registered divorce cases show that in 2007 only 47 married couples received their divorce certificates. The trend escalated the following year to 58 but in 2009 the figure jumped to 96. However, last year the number dropped slightly to 84. These are the only cases that have been registered but we know that there are many more couples that have parted company. These are not registered with RITA, according to experts. It's a fact that at least each person has heard or knows a couple whose marriage has failed to work resulting in separation or divorce. The number of separations and divorces has been low for decades. However, the last few years have seen an upsurge in divorces. Gladness Munuo, a social worker from Gender and Media Southern Africa (Tanzania Network) says that change in gender roles is among the major causes of divorces and separations. ''If the wife is an employee, gender roles change. So, conflicts arising from sharing of household chores or even the mere absence from home. Sometimes the wife might be working late -- six days in a week. This creates tension especially if her man believes that her place is in the matrimonial home taking care of the family.' ' Ms Gladness also said that general acceptance of separation and divorce by the society, especially in urban centres and the acceptance of divorced daughters back into their families, especially in rural areas, also accelerates separation rates. ''We have heard many cases whereby wives have returned to their parents after separating from their husbands. This shows that some families now believe that their daughters can lead happier lives without husbands.'' Mr Prosper Ngowi, a Senior lecturer in economics at Mzumbe University, says that it is also possible for couples to divorce because of financial problem or poverty. ''I am not a relationship expert but I can give you the example of a recent incident, when the economy crisis hit Europe and the US. The divorce rate increased because both men and women wanted to have financial freedom. Here in Tanzania, it seems that people are shying away from their marriages because they do not want to have any financial responsibility.' ' Ms Tike Mwambipile, Head of the Research Department of Tanzania Women Lawyer Association (TAWLA), says that the reason as to why divorce rates are growing is because of economic frustrations. The level of poverty is increasing and many women depend on their husbands for everything. So, when earnings become difficult to come, the husband walks out on his wife or vice versa. However, there are cases whereby it is the wife who is the breadwinner for the family. In such cases most husbands feel inferior or humiliated. Some decide to abandon their wives and children. In other cases it is the wives who abandon their poor husbands. Yes, that could be one of the reasons for separations and divorces. But in Ashraf Mustapha's case, he divorced his wife after finding out that she had been having a love affair outside wedlock. Their marriage lasted only four months. ''My wife loved to lead a luxurious life. I tried to provide for her the best living conditions I could but she always felt something was lacking. So, she decided to look for a different husband.'' Ashraf is no longer interested in talking about his failed marriage life, but his eyes light when he talks about his current wife (whose name he declined to reveal) and his new baby. ''I didn't know that I would get married again but I eventually found the most ideal spouse for me and we are living together happily.' ' Father Francis Mumuburi of Segerea says that many couples nowadays get married without knowing their partners closely. And this has led to many separations. He compared the present-day trend with earlier days when those engaged stayed with each other for two to three years, getting to know each before marriage. Each couple should have pre-marital preparation before marriage so that they can be taught about the values of marriage, he insists. ''I always say to people that divorce is not the solution. If you get divorced and get involved with another person there is no guarantee that you will live with that second person for long. The problem lies within us. It is good to find out before linking your life to that of another person.' Father Francis has made an effort in his church to have couples' seminars and he believes that it has helped to ward off a lot of divorces. Beatrice Saria, 34, is separated from her previous husband for four years now. She filled for a divorce the minute she caught her husband having an affair with their house help. Today the idea of her getting married is remote. It is unfortunate that the sanctity of marriage is taking a beating. People's attitudes towards marriage itself are changing, like in the case of Beatrice, who has made up her mind never to get married again.