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October 20, 2018

Women soon to be able to divorce husbands

Top Story

October 20, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Women in Pakistan may soon be able to divorce their husbands without going to courts, according to a document being worked out by the government, a top official told The News on Friday.

Although this provision is part of marriage document or Nikahnama under the current Pakistani law, it is almost never offered to a bride-to-be at the time of marriage, leaving women with no option but to go to court to seek divorce, which is called Khula.

The Khula process is not only costly and tedious, but also enables men to exploit women wanting separation. Under the proposed changes to marriage documents, the language of Nikahnama will be changed to make the rights of women clear.

Also the nikahkhawan (a person who performs the marriage) will be legally bound to consult the bride on whether she wants her husband to give her right to dissolve marriage.

“The nikahkhawan will be legally bound to inform the bride of her right to ask for dissolution of marriage,” Qibla Ayaz, Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), told The News. He said for Khula the husband’s consent was necessary but under the dissolutionprovision consent would not be required as husbands would already surrender their right to their wives.

The council, a constitutional body which recommends changes to Pakistani laws to make them Sharia-compliant, is working on a new marriage document, which will be more women-friendly, Ayaz said. The draft of the new Nikahnama has been prepared by the Research Wing of CII and the same would soon be presented before a panel of religious scholars and family law experts for finalisation, Ayaz said.

According to him, the old marriage document drafted in 1960s did not have provisions according to the requirements of 21st Century. He said provision for the bride to dissolve the marriage was present in the old document too but it was not elaborate and the brides were often given the document in which the provision was deleted by Nikahkhwans.

“They won’t be able to do that anymore and there would be legal consequences for that and the Nikahkhwan would not able to delete it without consent of the bride-to-be,” Ayaz told The News. The responsibilities of nikahkhawan will be enhanced under the proposed changes.

The new draft also includes clear wording on the first wife’s permission for second marriage which is requirement under the existing Pakistani law. He said the existing Pakistani law “The Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961” gives several important rights to women but their rights were not clearly worded in the old Nikahnama.

Also, he added most of the times the brides are given pre-filled marriage documents instead of discussing the conditions with her first, which is a mandatory practice under the Islamic teachings. In addition to the new Nikkah document, the council has also drafted a divorce paper (Talaqnama) to ensure protection of divorced women’s rights.

Ayaz said in the absence of Talaqnama, the divorced women had to face questions while going for a new marriage. “Now the new document will act as a proof of divorce and it will also include all the terms and conditions of divorce in clear words.”

The authority is also in the process of finalising recommendations to stop the practice of men giving divorce to their wives in one sitting, a phenomenon also knows as triple Talaq. “Triple Talaq is not a desired practice in any Islamic school of thought. So, we would approach the issue through a legislation to punish those men who are involved in this practice as well as through raising public awareness of the practice,” Ayaz said. The CII chairman said the council had examined the draft of Muslim Personal Laws of India before preparing the new recommendations.

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