The rise of single mothers in Fuvahmulah: An examination of causes

From 2007 to 2021 we have seen an increasing number of marriages end in divorce. Though marriage itself is declining all across the globe, that is not the case in Maldives and in Fuvahmulah. But we are seeing a trend of women marrying at a later age, from 19 in 2007 to 22-23 in 2015.

No couple marry just to get a divorce after a few years. But this the reality for some women in Fuvahmulah. Sometimes they divorce after having a child or two.

Getting a divorce when they have children is the last thing a partner would consider. It is one of the most stressful life events which negatively affect both children and the couple. (Amato, 2000). Yet women go through it. One thing is for sure. For them, being married is more painful than going through that divorce. These are the top causes from my own observations and based the conversations I had with single mothers.

Housing problems
When couples get married they do not think of where to live. Once the issue comes up, they decide to move into one of the parents house. This creates tension between other family members. The tension multiplies when a child arrives to the family. Sometimes these conflicts destabilize the family and they end up in divorce.

Sexual problems
This is a taboo subject. As a result this problem is rarely discussed. Sexual dissatisfaction is common in Fuvahmulah especially among women. This problem exist due to lack of sexual education for men which leaves them confused, and women dissatisfied. Another reason is working in resorts or separate islands. This makes it difficult for the couple to spend time together, which again leaves both partners dissatisfied.

For women, lack of sex education makes them unaware about their complex body functions. As a result they have difficulty in figuring out how to take care of their body. Whether it is monthly period or pregnancy. This adds unnecessary medical costs. Not only that, pain and neglect ends up having both partners dissatisfied about their sex life.

Another sexual problem is infidelity. Multiple attempt of infidelity by the male partner or even a single attempt by the female partner have ended relationships.

Financial difficulties.
Lack of financial support from the partner results a guaranteed divorce. Most married women are unemployed and they are discouraged from doing so. By their partner as well as the society itself.

When it comes to women to work, the views between traditionalists and modernists are different. Couples who follow the traditional view do not let their female partners enter the job market. This increase the resource procurement burden for men. In this situation if the man cannot keep a job or he is in a minimum wage job, it will destabilize their marriage.

Financial support is necessary for a family to survive. But for some women marriage did not bring the financial security they hoped for. (Razee, 2006) This creates conflict among the partners, as a result they end up in divorce.

Drug abuse
Financial problems, domestic violence, unable to keep a job, medical costs, and mental health are all connected to drugs. Since drug abuse is the master of all other above mentioned problems and it’s is extremely difficult to get clear from it, most drug user’s relationships end up in divorce.

Domestic violence is the effect or action as a result of aggression, drug abuse, mental health or other issues result from conflict. If the violence increases to an unbearable degree, it can end up the couple in divorce.

Those are the major fives causes for women in Fuvahmulah to end their marriage. Of course there are more. But it is safe to assume that over 80% of the divorces are the result of one of those 5 causes.

Rahman, N. W., Abdullah, H., Darus, N., & Mansor, A. A. (2017). Key challenges contributing to the survival of single mothers. Journal of Applied Environmental and Biological Sciences, 7(4), 105-109.

Aboobakuru, S., & Riyaz, A. (2021). Stress and coping resources of divorced women in the Maldives.

Kim, G. E., Choi, H. Y., & Kim, E. J. (2018). Impact of economic problems on depression in single mothers: A comparative study with married women. PloS one, 13(8), e0203004.

Harknett, K. (2006). The relationship between private safety nets and economic outcomes among single mothers. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(1), 172-191.

Original: 25-11-2021