July 23, 2007 / 9:50 AM / 10 years ago

Tit-for-tat affairs wrecking marriages in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian women whose husbands have cheated on them are increasingly opting to have affairs of their own, while suspicious husbands are calling for more genetic tests on newborns, a newspaper said on Monday.

Marriage counsellors report a rise in the number of working women seeking professional help to sort out marriages troubled by affairs aimed at avenging themselves on cheating husbands or seeking solace from abusive spouses, the New Straits Times said.

“Most of them do it out of anger at being cheated by their husbands,” Paul Jambunathan, a clinical psychology consultant at International Medical University said, adding that the number of married women involved in affairs had risen over the last decade.

Others, fed up with abusive husbands, refused to remain silent. “Today women are aware of their rights,” he said. “Some feel it is no longer taboo to leave adulterous husbands.”

The number of couples going their separate ways tripled to 9,919 cases in 2005, from 3,291 in 2004, before falling back to 5,748 in 2006, national registry records show. Just 23,880 marriages were registered in 2006, against 50,335 in 2005.

Hand-in-hand with women’s growing affairs goes a trend of men suspicious about their wives, with more than 50 DNA tests conducted on newborns for paternity checks last year, compared to just 20 cases in 2004, the paper said.

The majority of Malaysia’s 700,000 single mothers have been victims of domestic violence, with more women being abused and raped by their husbands, the Women’s Aid Organisation says.

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