Divorce is hard. Sri Lanka makes it worse.

 

Pushpika de Silva’s unceremonious dethronement didn’t only show the Mrs Sri Lanka competition’s shoddy logistics, it unveiled the exclusion that many divorcees, and disproportionately divorced women, face. The crude implementation of an unjust rule is only an example of the hurdles divorcees and prospective-divorcees go through, both societal and legal, to end a marriage that is dysfunctional.

Divorce is often seen as a failure of the individuals, and a lazy path to young couples ignorant of marriage. In reality divorce is a method for people to escape from abusive marriages, or escape from loveless marriages which often turn abusive. While some say a marriage is all about sacrifice and compromise, there’s a limit to how much of that one can undergo. And if a marriage is loveless, why force a couple to be together when life is limited?

A major factor in divorce is also children. Divorce is stereotyped as being destructive to a child, and while divorce is undoubtedly hard on children, its more accurate that the conditions that lead to divorce are often more destructive than the divorce itself. In families of major-discord, divorce is a relief to children who have to endure their parents fighting.[1] What’s more, children are often unaffected in the long-run by divorce, especially if the divorce is amicable.[1] In the end, divorce is a weigh of harms that should be decided between two spouses when counselling and advice fail.

 
 
 

Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan Justice System doesn’t think so. Divorce here can only occur under three grounds; adultery, malicious desertion and impotence, that must be proven to a District Court that has no interest in your marriage. [2] This makes divorce cases long, expensive and difficult to settle, which often lead to greater animosity, something the Supreme Court has acknowledged.[3] And yes, that also means the Justice System sees your inability to have children more serious than you being domestically abused.

The worst outcome of this are instances where individuals prefer a toxic marriage over divorce. This is especially true for women; in a 2019 survey despite 20.3% of women disclosing physical or sexual abuse from their partners, only 1.0% of women who had ever married underwent a divorce, which means an astonishing number of women are still married to their abusers.[4]

Old men may harp on how divorce is destroying society. (Probably the same men who share chain-messages of crude wife-humor.) But if divorce means a way out for victims of abusive marriages, for children whose lives are their parent’s battlefield and for people who simply fall out of love, then that’s something society should have accepted already.

-Sadisha Saparamadu
 

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Girl in a jacket     39 Comments

Girl in a jacket   
    Manaal Mubarak

    June 07 2021 07:17 pm

Whoa, what a masterpiece! This is something seen as a taboo topic in Sri Lanka, and the fact that the author had the guts to write about this is absolutely amazing. The entire article was amazing. Cultural norms are good sometimes but are harmful at other times. Thank you for bringing this up. We need more people speaking up about this subject <3


Girl in a jacket   
    Nisha Arunatilake

    June 08 2021 06:21 am

Well researched essay. I agree with the sentiments. The current legal system needs to be amended, and be more just.


Girl in a jacket   
    Nisha Arunatilake

    June 08 2021 06:21 am

Well researched essay. I agree with the sentiments. The current legal system needs to be amended, and be more just.


Girl in a jacket   
    Iloka Wickremasinghe

    June 08 2021 08:53 am

Excellent analysis on a subject that many are reluctant to comment on. Sadisha very correctly identifies the main reasons that many in Sri Lanka even though in a very unhappy relationship do not take the steps to end that toxic relationship, and as a result they make themselves and the children unhappy. This maybe the case for men as well as women. A point worth exploring further.


Girl in a jacket   
    Ramani Gunatilaka

    June 08 2021 10:53 am

Very well argued. So many women opt to stay within toxic marriages because they do not have the economic wherewithal to live independently.


Girl in a jacket   
    Keith Chapman

    June 08 2021 10:54 am

Very mature and balanced article.However there are numerous organisations that help couples before divorce with counselling. Agree that laws need revision.


Girl in a jacket   
    C Chapman

    June 08 2021 11:33 am

Very much to the point, nicely unravelling the old way of thinking in Sri Lanka. Exvellent


Girl in a jacket   
    Neranjana

    June 08 2021 12:22 pm

Yes, I am bias. But I have to say, I thought the article was written by a woman. It is very rare for men - even those who are sensible and responsible - to see how corrosive not getting a devoice can be. Impressed. It gives you hope that the upcoming generation will be more understanding of what constitutes success and failure in a marriage.


Girl in a jacket   
    Himalee

    June 08 2021 01:36 pm

very well written. Sadisha has captured into this short piece a very complex issue while displaying much maturity of thought.


Girl in a jacket   
    Athula

    June 08 2021 02:41 pm

Impressive and very well written. The courage shown to express the facts as is, is commendable. The content included is very well researched as well. I got some sympathy for the current system which I think is trying to preserve marriage instead of breaking it up, however I agree for the fact that the current laws are archaic and should be changed to reflect the present reality.


Girl in a jacket   
    Mahesh Dissanayake

    June 08 2021 03:35 pm

Well written on a subject most would like to avoid. I assume most divorces also take place in suburban areas whilst in the villages the abuse of the spouse and children continue unabated


Girl in a jacket   
    Mahesh Dissanayake

    June 08 2021 03:37 pm

Well written on a subject most would like to avoid. I assume most divorces also take place in suburban areas whilst in the villages the abuse of the spouse and children continue unabated


Girl in a jacket   
    Praveesha Chapman

    June 08 2021 03:49 pm

Well written, with interesting facts and information.


Girl in a jacket   
    Praveesha Chapman

    June 08 2021 03:49 pm

Well written, with interesting facts and information.


Girl in a jacket   
    Indira Kitulwatte

    June 08 2021 04:32 pm

This is the bitter truth! Well addressed! I being a forensic person see this bitter truth. Some of them finally end up in tragic death!


Girl in a jacket   
    Indira Kitulwatte

    June 08 2021 04:32 pm

This is the bitter truth! Well addressed! I being a forensic person see this bitter truth. Some of them finally end up in tragic death!


Girl in a jacket   
    Udakani Perera

    June 08 2021 06:30 pm

This article shows the outdated judicial system of Sri Lankan family law (i.e divorce of a woman) as well societal unjust towards divorcée. Well done!


Girl in a jacket   
    Dileepa Endagamage

    June 08 2021 06:43 pm

Very well written. Sadisha highlights some important points to think as adults. The harder part bared by the kids. They need both mother and father though the parents do not need each other. In Asian region, kids face a lot of embarrassing situations because of the divorce of their parents. Good start Sadisha, good luck.


Girl in a jacket   
    J Gooneratne Fernando

    June 08 2021 07:33 pm

Well written on a very complicated subject. Good job Sadisha.


Girl in a jacket   
    Malathy Knight

    June 08 2021 08:27 pm

Extremely well-conceptualized piece on a topic often viewed as taboo in Sri Lankan society. What struck me most are the perverse cultural “traditions” that trap women in abusive/loveless marriages and the restricted legal space for divorce. These are important issues for society to consider. Well argued Sadisha!


Girl in a jacket   
    N De Soysa

    June 08 2021 09:44 pm

A well written piece which makes us contemplate the meaning of life as we know it. I, for one, will support any friend who chooses divorce over a lifetime of voluntary lockdown. Lets make sure our laws are framed to support us and not to persecute us.


Girl in a jacket   
    K A Chapman

    June 08 2021 10:03 pm

Well researched and balanced article. The circus displayed on the stage of the Mrs Sri Lanka pageant showed how poor the understanding of the subject matter is on a national level and this article provides the key points which certain people need to be educated on. Well Done Sadisha.


Girl in a jacket   
    Senaka

    June 08 2021 10:04 pm

Good to see someone has written on this difficult issue, well though out and written.


Girl in a jacket   
    Namal Ralapanawe

    June 08 2021 11:06 pm

Well researched and well written. You are absolutely correct, "current" social norms and the legal system make divorce very difficult, even in the case that both parties agree to divorce. Both the norms and law stems from colonial era, which we have not managed to change even after a century...


Girl in a jacket   
    Anuruddhi Edirisinghe

    June 09 2021 07:47 am

You have brought up the blatant facts of social phenomena of gender ideations especially patriarchal ideology


Girl in a jacket   
    Bilesha Weeraratne

    June 09 2021 08:38 am

Well done Sadisha ! You hv captured the issue very well.


Girl in a jacket   
    Anuruddhi Edirisinghe

    June 09 2021 10:19 am

You have brought up the blatant facts of social phenomena of gender ideations especially patriarchal ideology


Girl in a jacket   
    Anuruddhi Edirisinghe

    June 09 2021 10:19 am

You have brought up the blatant facts of social phenomena of gender ideations especially patriarchal ideology


Girl in a jacket   
    Anuruddhi Edirisinghe

    June 09 2021 10:19 am

You have brought up the blatant facts of social phenomena of gender ideations especially patriarchal ideology


Girl in a jacket   
    Sadisha Saparamadu

    June 09 2021 10:49 am

This is not a topic widely spoken even among adults, where Sadisha a young school boy is not afraid to speak about. Analysis has done well and really an eye opening problem in the society, where laws to be amended.


Girl in a jacket   
    Senani Gunaratna

    June 09 2021 12:30 pm

Laws should exist for the purpose of protecting people’s rights and not as a way to push cultural values. In that context the law should not be used to keep people in a marriage against their will. But rather to make sure the rights of people are safeguarded within a marriage.


Girl in a jacket   
    Sadhana

    June 09 2021 01:52 pm

The statistics are shocking, however, proof that support is needed for those in compromised marriages, the legal system needs to improve and the society at large needs to be more understanding and empathetic. Thanks for sharing this wonderful write-up Sadisha.


Girl in a jacket   
    Dhushan ILLESINGHE

    June 09 2021 04:12 pm

Wow! It is so pertinent, and well articulated. It should be published, presented to parliament, submitted for law reform!


Girl in a jacket   
    Erandima Abeywickrama

    June 09 2021 07:32 pm

Well studied. Valid and more accurate statistics, how ever I believe the impact of a divorce has more substantial impact on personal nature than social which might result in high figures of victims which was not quantified properly on studies..


Girl in a jacket   
    Dilukshi

    June 10 2021 05:09 pm

An article well written and well researched. Legal system definitely needs changes. Economic and social constraints are also major contributors.


Girl in a jacket   
    Renuke Mendis

    June 10 2021 11:28 pm

This is a very well-researched topic and the author has brought to light an extremely important issue, together with some interesting points that I hope will be addressed by the policymakers in Sri Lanka in short order. Apart from the policies regarding the laws in Sri Lanka that relate to divorce, we are also faced with a highly innefficient Judicial System, where attorneys have no incentive to settle legal matters quickly. On the contrary, it is to the advantage of Judges and lawyers to drag these cases on. As pointed out, family matters that involve children should be resolved in a timely manner to help the children, and all concerned parties move forward with their lives and help recover from the scars of failed relationships. I must also point out, many divorces are due to irreconcilable differences of married couples, who may also be parents. In a court of law, it is very rare that they would even consider the irreconcilable differences experienced by children. However, the effects of divorce have a lasting impact on all children just as it impacts the parents, family members, and even friends and neighbors. Good job Sadisha. Keep up the good work!!!


Girl in a jacket   
    Dimi

    June 11 2021 10:46 pm

Totally agree, very good topic needs public discussion! Laws need to be amended to suit the times.


Girl in a jacket   
    Dimi

    June 11 2021 10:50 pm

Totally agree, very good topic needs public discussion! Laws need to be amended to suit the times.


Girl in a jacket   
    Deepthi Goonaratne.

    June 16 2021 05:37 pm

Very true and written very well.