Remember the massive data scandal involving AshleyMadison.com? As well as revealing some of your faves were also avid users of the dating website that specialised in extramarital affairs – it also revealed that Saudi is home to the largest number of cheaters in the Arab world, with Morocco coming in as a close second.
A data breach might not be the most reliable measure of infidelity, but as is the case with many issues in the Arab world, data is limited (especially when it comes to cheating; a subject that’s still taboo in most Arab nations.)
One thing is for sure though, from Morocco to Oman, divorce rates are seeing major increases. In Palestine, they reached an all-time high, with 3,541 divorce cases presented in 2018. A judge attributed the rising rates to “moral bankruptcy”, but he also stipulated that he believes that Arabs are redefining their values to fit Western standards.
“If the husband tries to fulfil his aspirations and act as if he were single and wives do the same, then it is unavoidable to witness the collapse of familial and social values,” he told Middle East Monitor. It’s worth mentioning that 54 per cent of cases filed were by women. “Here, we can say that it is clear that women take the initiative more often than men in filing for divorce,” the judged explained.
Like Palestine, Saudi Arabia is experiencing some of its highest divorce rates every year, with the latest surveys reporting more than 53,000 cases, 45 per cent of the total number of marriages.
“Injustice, lack of honesty and trust, and confusion are the hallmarks of divorce cases across the Kingdom,” reads one report. The same report credits “a new urban culture, modern information technology, education and employment of women” as causes of divorce. As is the case with Palestinians, women in Saudi are filing for divorce more than ever. However, with adultery being a major crime in Saudi Arabia, cases of infidelity are rarely documented.
However, the increase in women filing for divorce fits perfectly within global trends. Across the world, divorce rates have increased 251 per cent since 1960, just as women’s rights movements started shaping up across the globe.
It should be of no surprise then, that as women in the region turn to education and push for gender equality, divorce rates are spiking up. An increase in divorce, by this logic, should be attributed to a push for gender equality rather than “moral bankruptcy”.
And as global trends dictate, infidelity stands as the second-most common cause of divorce, at almost 20 per cent. So, if the increasing number of divorces in the region are of any indication (aside of being a sign of a move towards gender equality), it’s that Arabs cheat just as much as everyone else.