Marital Disruption: Determinants and Consequences on the Lives of Women in a Rural Area of Bangladesh
This study, carried out during the second half of 1995, investigated the predisposing factors leading to marital disruption and its consequences on the lives of women in Matlab, a rural area of Bangladesh. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. Data were generated from detailed case studies and quantitative surveys of a small number of martially-disrupted women. Additional data were used from the ongoing demographic surveillance system of ICDDR,B: Centre for Health and Population Research. The findings revealed that divorced and abandoned women and their children were extremely vulnerable, both socially and economically. Various factors that influence marital disruption were identified, the most important ones being: aspects determining the process of marriage, various family problems due to non-fulfillment of demand for dowry, mutual distrust, extramarital relationships, quality of sexual life, education of women, and other behavioural characteristics of individuals. Level of education of the wife showed an inverse relationship with the risk of divorce. Women who did not have livebirths from their first pregnancy had a higher risk of divorce. The effect of pregnancy outcome was dependent on the level of education of women. Illiterate women with unsuccessful pregnancy outcomes were at the highest risk of being divorced, with the lowest risk for women with some education and a livebirth. The findings clearly indicate the need for broad-based social development programmes for women, especially to enhance their education to reduce their vulnerability to marital instability and its consequences.