Social media fuelling divorce rate in Niger Republic
London, July 25, 2018 (AltAfrica)- Social media has changed the way we meet and interact with each other. It provides a platform to learn more about people you associate with. This can be a problem, however, when it comes to romantic relationships.
Researches have shown that increased usage of social media may lead to marital problems, infidelity, and divorce. This aptly depict the situation in Niger Republic where divorce rates have soared because of social media.
According to Niger’s most senior marabouts, or religious teachers, Every week they counsel unhappy couples and their number one piece of advice is for husband and wife not to have access to each other’s phones.
“Twenty years ago the number of divorces didn’t even reach the hundreds,” said Sheikh Djibril Karanta, sitting with three marabouts in white robes and gold watches in the Islamic association headquarters in the middle of a treeless clearing in Niamey.
Last year, by contrast, 820 couples got a divorce through the association. They lay the blame on Facebook and WhatsApp for making infidelity easy. “It’s not good. It’s against our religion. People are abandoning our culture for a foreign one and it’s all because of social media,” Karanta said, adding that women were more at fault than men. “Most of the time, the women are the problem. They watch TV series from abroad, and see how women earn money and are equal to men. But here in Niger men look after women and they are superior.”
Indeed, Nigerien women are getting ideas beyond their traditional station. For one thing many feel increasingly empowered to make their own relationship choices. However, some things are not changing: men can and often do have up to four wives.
Seven days after getting married Fati Boubacar’s “sister” – her husband’s senior wife – was making her life hell. The towering pile of pink suitcases from her brideprice picture were on top of the wardrobe but she was beginning to wonder whether she should repack them and if the 1m CFA (£1,350) brideprice she got was enough.
“The furniture I brought with me was worth more than that,” she said, struggling to keep the tears in. “Polygamy is so hard. She insults me all the time. I never expected this. Sometimes I even think about divorce.”
The solution, according to some male religious leaders, is for women to ditch social media. “A good wife shouldn’t use Facebook,” said Serge Abdul Razak, a young marabout (Muslim holy man) with his own television programme who recently put out a broadcast entitled How to choose a beautiful wife. “She should delete her account when she gets married and change her WhatsApp number.”
According to the marabouts, it is the wider changes that have given rise to the social media phenomenon that are really to blame.
People think they have the right to do everything now, they say.
Karanta added that 1,400 years ago the Prophet had written that there would be huge upheaval; this was it, he said. “We saw it coming.”