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Feature: Divorces on the rise among Vietnamese young couples

by Le Phuong

HO CHI MINH CITY, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam is catching up with more developed societies as broken marriages and divorces are now becoming common in the country.

"My marriage was broken. I received the approval note from the court a few days ago," 32-year-old Ta Kim Dung, a resident of District 5 of Ho Chi Minh City, told Xinhua in between sobs.

Dung said she had tried very hard to keep her marriage that had lasted for more than five years, but her efforts ended in vain.

"My husband already changed for the worse, and he is no longer the man that I loved and respected years ago. We should better be divorced for the good of both of us," Dung said.

According to a recent survey co-conducted by Vietnam's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the General Statistics Office, and with support from the United Nations Children's Fund(UNICEF), the number of divorces in Vietnam has increased over the years, from 51,361 cases in 2000 to 88,591 cases in 2010, and 145,791 cases in 2013. As of November 2013, Vietnam's population had reached 90 million.

Currently, the average span of marriage of the Vietnamese couples aged between 18 and 60 is 9.4 years, and in big cities it is eight years. The divorce rate in urban areas is higher than in rural areas.

Another study by the Vietnam Institute of Social Sciences revealed that the number of divorce cases has been rising over the past 10 years. Worst still, 60 percent of the divorces is made up of young couples, with ages ranging from 23 to 30 years while 70 percent of the divorced couples had a marriage life of one to seven years, and most of them have children.

Women accounted for 70 percent of people who forwarded their divorce cases to courts and intellectuals and state employees made up the majority of the total divorcees.

Social researchers attributed the rising divorce cases to social changes in a modern life, in which women often face more pressures than men, economically and socially. Differences in lifestyle, lack of mutual understanding before marriage, adultery and family violence are among the major causes of broken marriages.

Dung told Xinhua that her husband and she had known each other for three years before they got married. They were both office employees with modest incomes. But since she had the second child and her husband established a private company to sell electronic appliances, their living conditions had improved, economically. However, their marriage became worse when her husband had another woman and used to beat her at home.

"My two children and I had lived just like in a hell for five years before I decided to divorce him," Dung said, adding that she made such a decision even if she knew that she has to raise her two children by herself.

According to Nguyen Thi Hue Chi, a judge from the HCM City People's Court, the city leads in the number of divorce cases in the whole of Vietnam, especially among young couples.

"Divorce cases account for more than 40 percent of the total cases we have handled annually. Half of the cases involved 30-year- old couples," Thi said.

Nguyen Thi Tram, 58, a retired teacher in HCM City, told Xinhua that she became busier after retirement three years ago because she had to take care of her two grandchildren abandoned by their parents who have divorced.

Professor Nguyen Huu Minh, head of the Institute for Family and Gender Studies under the Vietnam Institute of Social Sciences, said that in recent years, one out of every four married couples got divorced.

"Most of the young divorcees lack 'soft skills' in life, as they are normally the 'only child' in their family and they have enjoyed too much care and attention from their parents, which makes them selfish people. In their marriage life, they lack altruism and patience and they often resort to divorce or separation," Huu said.

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