COVID Appears to Be Pushing Couples in Indonesia to Divorce

Several districts in Indonesia reported higher-than-usual filings for divorce since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
August 26, 2020, 11:00am
indonesia marriage divorce
A newly married couple wearing face masks amid the COVID-19 coronavirus sign documents after their marriage ceremony at a mosque in Banda Aceh on June 3, 2020. Photo: AFP / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN

A video showing a long line of people outside of a religious court building in the Soreang district of Bandung, West Java, Indonesia made the rounds of social media earlier this week, with some speculating that those lining up were married couples planning to file for divorce.

A court clerk later confirmed the rumors to local media, saying that those outside the building were indeed waiting to divorce.

“In total, there are 592 divorce cases this August. There is still a possibility the numbers will increase,” the clerk told local news outlet Kompas on Monday.

The Soreang Religious Court noted a high divorce rate in Bandung after the coronavirus pandemic first hit. So many requests kept coming in that the court had to close its registration for two weeks back in May. 

CNN Indonesia reported that throughout June, 1,012 requests for divorce were filed at Soreang Religious Court—higher than the average 700-800 cases the court usually handles per month. 

Meanwhile, the Bandung Religious Court can process up to 246 divorces a day, reported news site Detik.com.

A surge in divorce has also been observed in other regions.

Semarang Religious Court in Central Java recorded a threefold increase in divorce during the coronavirus. At least 100 people file for divorce every day and most of them are women. 

“The requests rose from 98 in May to 291 in mid-June,” said Deputy Chairman of the Semarang Religious Court Muhammad Camuda, according to CNN Indonesia.

Families in several other regions across the country have also been affected by the pandemic, which has infected over 160,000 people and killed nearly 7,000 others as of Wednesday, August 26.

Buang Yusuf, Head of Serang Religious Court in Banten Province, told local media that many Indonesian households suffered from financial problems during the pandemic, which is often a leading cause of divorce.

“Approximately 1,600 divorce cases in Serang have been processed. There may be an increase this year. Most of these families are losing income, and quarrels between married couples are becoming more frequent,” Yusuf told Fajar Indonesia.

The head of the Indonesian Population and Family Planning Agency Hasto Wardoyo agreed with the assessment and said economic hardships and family quarrels have intensified since the coronavirus outbreak.

“Almost 28 percent of divorce cases stem from economic problems, although more than 50 percent are caused by long-term quarrels. The pandemic has worsened financial problems, which triggers quarrels between married couples,” he told Kedaulatan Rakyat Jogja.