Lack of sex pushed 1,654 Saudis to seek divorce in 2013

Former Judge: About 60 % of cases resolved by reconciliation

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More than 1,650 people in Saudi Arabia filed for divorce in 2013 on grounds of lack of sex, according to recent statistics by the kingdom’s justice ministry

Statistics showed that 1,371 cases were filed by women and 238 were filed by men.

Ahmed Saqia, a legal advisor and former judge at the board of grievances, told Al Arabiya that litigation usually takes place in a woman’s hometown and proceedings take no more than eight days due to the “sensitive nature of the issue.”

“Our society is influenced by its surroundings. Some people, especially in remote regions and suburbs, believe that going to court [over lack of sex] is a disgrace,” Saqia said.

He explained that most of the cases are resolved with the so-called “preferred means of conflict resolution,” which include medicated reconciliation based on the Islamic Shariah. Proof or evidence of lack of sex is rarely sought as a basis for divorce, he said.

If a woman claims that she is not being satisfied in bed, this provides enough reason for a judge to divorce her according to the Shariah law, he said. But 60 percent are solved through reconciliation, he added.

Saqia lauded the justice ministry’s decision to publish statistics about this “sensitive” issue.

“Revealing such statistics represents a high degree of transparency and allows researchers and specialists to address such problems,” he said.

Hani al-Ghamdi, a psychotherapist specialized in family and social issues, said: “One must first understand that the essential pillar of a marriage life is the sexual relationship and there is nothing wrong in it.”

“When a wife complains about this issue, it means that there is a failure at home and it is her right to complain about it; there are dozens of stories about our predecessors confirming that the sexual relationship is an essential part of a happy married life,” he noted.

He said women in a conservative society should not feel ashamed to file for divorce on sexual grounds. “It is a normal reaction and such cases have always existed, and still exist, in courts. What surprises me is that people feel astonished about such cases. Specialists like us have been aware of these problems for many years.”

“Many couples suffer from the lack of sexual intimacy, but let us be fair, these problems can be found everywhere; we do not recommend divorce but we rather try to solve problems. The sexual relationship is a complicated matter for sure; it is not simple at all. Distractions and extramarital relationships are the main problems in these cases,” Ghamdi said.

A legal source who refused to be named told Al Arabiya that male lawyers are often uncomfortable with handling such cases.

He said they usually ask their clients to go for psychological counseling. Sultan Zahem, a lawyer, played down the issue in Saudi Arabia, saying the figures released by the ministry remain very low compared to the overall number of family cases in courts.

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