Macedonian Divorce Rate Blamed on Women’s Rights

Macedonian Divorce Rate Blamed on Women’s Rights

Head of Macedonia’s state anti-discrimination body blames women’s emancipation for the failed marriage rate, drawing anger from women’s rights activists.

Backing the government’s recent decision to open 11 marriage counseling centres across Macedonia, Dusko Minovski who is also a state advisor in the Social Policy Ministry, said women’s emancipation was to blame for the increased divorce rate.

“The wave of emancipation coming from Western countries has influenced women,” Minovski told the daily newspaper Vest.

“We now see them chase education and careers, so they delay marriage,” he added.

Minoski, a member of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party, said the new marriage counseling centres could help reverse the trend towards increased divorces.

“The stereotype that the male as the dominant partner should be respected is crumbling, so we end up with divorces even after a small scuffle [between couples],” he explained. 

“That is why the decision to open new counseling centers is good. They will be on voluntary basis, not obligatory for the people who have problems in marriage,” Minovski noted.

The National Council for Gender Equality, HCPP, a network comprised of over 100 local women’s organizations, said Minovski’s statement was worrying.

“Based on this statement… we call on the government to take urgent measures for the greater emancipation and education of men, to reduce the number of divorces,” the HCPP said.

Minovski’s statement is in line with the socially conservative outlook of the government of Nikola Gruevski, which has launched several controversial campaigns in recent years.

Amid protests by activists and in the absence from parliament of opposition parties in June, the ruling parties in parliament adopted new abortion legislation that critics said curbed women’s rights.

In 2010, Macedonia was criticized for failing to adopt an anti-discrimination law in harmony with European norms and standards, including explicit protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In 2009, a government policy aimed at boosting population growth by giving cash bonuses to mothers with more than one child was outlawed by the Constitutional Court, on the grounds that it was discriminatory. The same provision remains active but in a different form.

Minovski’s statement also dovetails with those of leaders of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the main faith group in the country.

In May, one senior bishop blamed women for failed marriages, saying too many women strove to be equal to their husbands.

Latest official statistics for 2012 showed 10 per cent more divorces than a year earlier. The number of marriages over the same period decreased by 5 per cent. Read more…

© Jakov Marusic

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