The number of broken marriages is on the rise in Kerala along with the number of divorce cases, with over 11,600 cases being filed in the various family courts in the state during 2009-10 alone.
The number of divorce cases coming up in the 16 family courts in Kerala has shown a steep increase in the past five years, causing concern. In 2005-06, about 8,456 divorce cases had been filed, while in 2006-07 it was 9,775, in 2007-08 it went up to 9,937 and 11,194 in 2008-09. While all these past years Thrissur topped the list with the maximum number of cases, during 2009-10, Ernakulam shot to the top slot with 1,505 cases being filed, followed by Thrissur 1,022, according to the Registrar of the Kerala High court.
The most high profile case which came up recently before the family court here was of popular Malayalam actress Kavya Madhavan, who filed a joint petition with her husband seeking divorce hardly a few months after her marriage last year.
According to Dr Dinesh, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) here, increase in divorce cases is closely linked to social changes. Moral values are going down and rampant alcoholism is playing a major role in wrecking the family life in the middle and upper class families, he says.
Family abuse, drugs and personality problems are also causing considerable strain with instances of young couples seeking separation within 3-4 months of marriage, he added.
The sale of alcoholic drinks in kerala had crossed the Rs 155 crore mark during this Onam festive season which was about 15 per cent higher than last year. Beena Sebastian of the Cultural Academy of Peace, who has been working for the past 20 years for women who have suffered family abuse and broken marriages, says that most of the Keralite men are still patriarchal and consider themselves superior to women. There is need for change in their mind set, she adds. 45-year old Anne (name changed), who was regularly beaten up by her husband and physically and emotionally harassed, decided to call it quits after over 25 years of marriage.
Her husband used to call her names in front of their teenaged daughters and try to force himself on her in their presence. Unable to take the insults any longer, she ended her marriage a few months ago.