New Internationalist

Till death do us part - or death if we do not part?

‘Till death do us part’… So goes the vow two people make when they marry in front of Jesus Christ or whatever god they choose, with their families and loved ones as witnesses.

They’re in their element, enjoying their happiest moments, and looking the most beautiful they can afford to be – whether that’s in a simple dress or a floor-length, diamond-adorned, pearl white bridal gown.

They will walk down the red carpet and all who have witnessed the momentous event will remember the sparkle in their eyes and the almost tangible euphoria of that thing they call love as the wedding singer’s voice reverberates in the air.

Or not? Photo by AForestFrolic on Creative Commons license.

Fast-forward to five or ten years of married life and for many, a slow death has just begun.

Some marriages turn out to be the hell that couples never, not once in their lives, imagined it to be. There are all sorts of abuse and suffering. In the Philippines, for instance, at least one out of 10 women suffers from domestic violence.

And as it is in macho and patriarchal societies, in the Philippines, there’s the widespread problem of infidelity. Infidelity is common in a country where there is no divorce law. The Philippines and Malta are the only two countries in the world with no divorce law (and Vatican City, if it’s considered a state).

It is because of this that almost every Congressional term, a new lawmaker attempts to pass a divorce bill into law. Needless to say, many have tried but none have succeeded in this pre-dominantly Catholic country.

Still, some lawmakers try again and again. The latest attempt is by Bayan Muna Party-list representative Neri Colmenares. Colmenares’ proposal aims to expedite the annulment process.

Filed on 17 January, Colmenares’ bill seeks to amend Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

According to the Family Code, annulment of a marriage is allowed if one spouse is proven to be psychologically incapacitated to comply with the marital obligation, ‘even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.’

In an article published on abs-cbnnews.com, Colmenares noted that at present, only the rich can afford to have their marriages annulled since the proceedings can be costly.

As such, Colmenares’ proposal recognizes ‘spousal violence, infidelity, and abandonment as presumptive psychological incapacity’. And these can be grounds for annulment of marriage.

Colmenares’ proposal seeks to hasten the annulment process by adding more grounds for the filing of an annulment case.

However, the highly pretentious Catholic Church in the Philippines is already raising its voice against the proposal.

Whether or not the latest attempt for something close to divorce prospers or not is anybody’s guess. Some are eagerly counting on it. But while some unhappy couples wait in agony, the harsh reality of living in hell remains for some people – even as years ago, with their eyes locked in love, they promised to love each other in sickness and in health.

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