The number of divorces has doubled in the last five years to 1,824 in 2013, most of them filed by women. One in ten family-related cases filed in the courts are divorces, and have overtaken cases relating to land, money lending, and inheritance. “The rigid boundaries governing traditional Nepali life are starting to crumble and so is the notion of marriage. People are embracing divorce as an option if they cannot get along,” says advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla. “However, only a small section of the urban population is socially and economically empowered to exercise these choices.”
Women can directly file a case for divorce in Nepal’s courts, whereas men have to appeal through the local Village Development Committee or Municipality. But women’s rights activists caution that more women filing for divorce doesn’t always mean empowerment.