‘Bashir’ Harbinger of Hope for Marriage

‘Bashir’ Harbinger  of Hope for Marriage‘Bashir’ Harbinger  of Hope for Marriage

‘Bashir’ is the national plan aimed at reducing the worrisome rise in divorce rates in the recent years. The plan initiated by the State Welfare Organization (SWO) will be launched from mid January 2015.

The plan, which first kick started as a pilot program in the central city of Yazd, will officially be launched on two fronts: life skills training and intervention and preventive action plans.

In a recent interview with Shargh newspaper, SWO President Homayoon Hashemi revealed details of the plan.

“Divorce is second only to drug addiction in its prevalence and social harm that thereby arises,” Hashemi said. He described divorce as the “mother” of many other social crises due to the multiple problems it generates. “A parentless child is a problem; a woman breadwinner left unprotected is a problem; similarly a single man with no wife is a problem,” he observed.

Hashemi warned that drug abuse, unemployment, poverty, extramarital affairs also go hand in hand with divorce.

The average divorce rate stands at 16.3% or out of every 100 marriages, 16 end in divorce. “This figure may appear optimistic compared with the individual figures for some provinces,” he said. “For instance, Alborz Province has a high divorce rate of almost 50%.”  

 Common Reasons

Hashemi cited “drug addiction” as the top reason for legal separation in the country; it accounts for 14% of all divorces. The second major reason is “meddling by others and lack of mental and emotional support” (11.3%). He listed the other causes for separation as “irresponsibility of the husband” (10%) and “low tolerance and immaturity” (8%).

“But of course the most important social reasons for divorce are poverty, drug abuse, unemployment, attaching a lot of importance to materialism , individualism and women working outside the home,” he maintained.

The Bashir plan – ‘bashir’ meaning harbinger – aims to tackle the crisis on two fronts: prevention and intervention. The prevention stage will target couples seeking divorce by counseling them and help change their decision to separate. These include providing social and psychological support.

The intervention stage involves the process after the divorce has taken place, he said so that “if the inevitable occurs, the former spouses and kids are protected against further harm.”


The pilot project in Yazd was quite successful. Out of the 90,000 cases referred to the SWO by the courts, the organization was successful in averting 45% of the divorces. Hashemi said the “process wasn’t an easy task, and took one year to bear fruit.”

In about 30% of the cases, counseling helped couples reach “complete reconciliation” and in another 15%,  the couples decided to continue the sessions until mutual understanding was arrived at,” Hashemi said. ‘’This indicates the efficacy of counseling sessions and family therapy in divorce prevention.”  He also drew attention to the catastrophic effects of divorce on children saying that 40% of children in families on the brink of divorce said “they think at least once a day about their parents’ splitting up.”