Sunday, July 22, 2018

"Almost died from beatings": Woman in a country with no divorce law

  • >> Reuters
    Published: 2018-04-16 19:53:01 BdST

bdnews24

Although her husband nearly killed her, Krista Dador cannot get a divorce as the Philippines is one of only two states - along with the Vatican - without a divorce law.

The prohibitive cost of an annulment means that Dador, who has received no financial support from her husband since they separated eight years ago, is looking to work as a maid in the Middle East, leaving their two children behind with her mother.

"Sometimes I want to end it all," said the 28-year-old, who makes a living washing neighbours' laundry in a squalid part of Quezon City, the Southeast Asian country's most populous city.

"This is a risk I'm taking. I want my children to be in school because I was not - and because I want to earn money to pay for my annulment."

The Philippines took a step toward making divorce legal in March with the lower house of Congress passing a law allowing people to dissolve marriages, in the face of opposition from the president and bishops in the mainly Roman Catholic country.

Even though thousands of women want to end failed and abusive relationships, the bill is unlikely to receive the support it needs from the upper house Senate, which has to draft and pass what is known as a counterpart bill, campaigners said.

The only option for unhappy couples is to seek a legal separation, which does not allow either party to remarry, or a civil annulment, which rights groups say is lengthy and costly - as Dador found out.

Marriage can only be annulled on limited grounds, such as insanity or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Abuse and infidelity are not valid reasons.

"I almost died from my husband's beating and yet I have to convince the courts why I want my marriage dissolved," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"The process is too tedious."

Only Muslims - about 10 percent of the population - can divorce under Muslim family laws.

Dador said her family forced her to marry after she became pregnant at the age of 18. However the relationship deteriorated rapidly as he repeatedly abused her.

After a night of non-stop beatings in 2010, she ran away. But village leaders, police and other officials have been unable to help her end her marriage.

Her husband is now with another woman but, from time to time, he goes to her house demanding to see their children.