Syrian film aims to cut capital city's divorce rate

A couple in a market Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Divorce in Syria has been on the rise as a result of the conflict

Courts in the Syrian capital Damascus will try to deter married couples from divorcing by playing them a film about the ill-effects of separation, the country's justice minister has announced.

Hisham al-Shaar said the video contained scenes of children abandoned on the streets or even in jail - as a result of their parents splitting up.

The news was reported by Dimashq Now, whose Facebook post on the story generated significantly more comments than usual - several of them sarcastic.

"They'll play them the film Stepmom," one comment joked.

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"Can I ask to watch Titanic before I get divorced?" another asked.

But others defended the initiative. "It's a great idea - prevention is better than cure," wrote one person.

War and divorce

Divorce rates have been on the rise after the country's 2011 uprising brought conflict, displacement and economic hardship.

A key Damascus court said that cases in the city had reached 31% in 2017, an increase of 4% per cent from the previous year. It attributed the rise in legal separations to spouses' absence. In some cases partners did not know whether their absent partner was alive or dead, it noted.

Divorce in Syria saw a major shift when the government decided to allow women to initiate their own divorce proceedings, provided that they had been authorised to do so by their husbands.

A top court official, Judge Mahmoud al-Maarawi, said in late 2017 that since the introduction of the new regulations, 70% of women who had been "delegated the right to divorce" had gone ahead and done so.

The previous year, he told the ruling Baath party's newspaper that the war in Syria had thrown up new, unprecedented reasons for separation - mostly blaming economic problems resulting from the conflict.

Reporting by Amira Fathalla

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