‘Rising divorce rate not cause for alarm, but a result of urbanization’

‘Rising divorce rate not cause for alarm, but a result of urbanization’

Turkey’s divorce rates are increasing, but that is an inevitable consequence of urbanization, experts say.

April 02, 2011, Saturday/ 17:44:00/ FULYA VATANSEVER

In light of recent statistics on marriage and divorce rates in Turkey, a professor of sociology from Selçuk University said on Friday that divorce is an indicator of modernization and urbanization.

Responding to the release of Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) data showing marriage and divorce statistics for the period between October and December 2010, Professor Yasin Aktay from Selçuk University's faculty of sociology says that there is no need for alarm at the rising rate of divorce in Turkey.

“There is an increase in individualization and urbanization and parallel to an increase in urbanization is an increase in divorce rates. This should not be viewed as very serious,” Aktay said. TurkStat data reveals that divorce rates have gone up 6 percent, with statistics showing that 27,670 people were divorced in the last quarter of 2009, 29,326 were divorced between the months of October and December in 2010.

According to Professor Aktay, it should not come as a surprise that divorce rates are greater in the Aegean region. “The Aegean is known to be more open and cosmopolitan. Individualism is at the forefront in such regions,” he said.

Describing the particular nature of Turkish society, Professor Aktay said that the Catholic mode of marriage remained as the vanguard. “The famous Turkish adage, ‘To age on a single pillow,’ is reminiscent of the Catholic approach to divorce, whereby couples endure in their marriage no matter how difficult things are,” he said. Interestingly, in Aktay’s view Turkish society is even more conservative with regards to divorce than traditional Islamic societies. “This attitude has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. Divorce is not seen as taboo in traditional Islamic societies where both women and men divorce more freely, as was evident in the time of the Prophet of Islam,” Aktay said.

TurkStat data consistently indicates that most divorces are seen in the first five years of marriage. According to Professor Aktay, this is because after this time, couples develop ways of dealing with each other or children make the option of divorce more difficult.

“When we look beyond five years, couples learn the art of dealing with each other. While in the first five years they see it as easier to turn back, while the road is still close, couples who cross this threshold learn how to carry on despite the circumstances. Children are also a mechanism that restrains people from seeking divorce,” he said. In Aktay’s view, divorce is also more difficult in situations where families are involved, as they tend to counsel couples to go on no matter what.

The number of marriages increased by 0.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010. According to their data -- revealed quarterly -- while 136,577 couples wed at in 2009, 137,637 couples were married and 29,326 divorced last year. The central Anatolian region holds the highest rate, with a 17 percent increase in divorce. The eastern Black Sea region. However, boasts a drop of 2.6 percent when compared to the same period in 2009.

The data also indicates that while the number of people getting married is showing a rapid decline in the nation’s central Anatolia region, the number of divorcees is rapidly increasing.

The average age difference between couples getting married for the first time was 3.3 years, with men at an average age of 26.4 years and women at an average of 23.1 years. The greatest increase in marriages was seen in the west Marmara region with a 4.9 percent jump, while the biggest drop, 7.3 percent, was seen in the central Anatolian region.

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