What is Women’s right to divorce in Pakistan: a rarely used provision on NikahNama
Pakistan is slowly but steadily moving towards pro-female legislation but question of the day is that who and how will we educate our women about their legal rights. For example, Muslim women in Pakistan can have right to divorce their husbands on column 18 of their Nikah Naama but most women are unaware of their legally recognized right in Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961. Our traditional mindset is biggest hurdle in the way and we rarely tell them or let them avail this right to divorce at the time of marriage.
Families rarely ask bride and groom if they want to talk about this clause and want to activate it. Study shows that more than 99% of women in Pakistan were not asked about this clause hence not applicable, thus stripping women of a right that is recognized under the law. Even in court marriages in Pakistan females says THEY DON’T NEED RIGHT TO DIVORCE in clause 18 of the nikahnama which refers to Section 8 of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 which defines detailed procedure for talaq (divorce) in Pakistan.
Woman who does not have the right of divorce under Section 18 of the nikahnama must go to the family court of their area for the gran of khula (dissolution of marriage), a 3-5 months long legal procedure during which she loses her claim over the dower and in some cases on maintenance too. And then go to the Union/Arbitration Council for issuance of final divorce certificate which is a 90 days process in either case.
Despite the advantages of this and some other clauses in the nikahnama, in most cases, a number of sections of the nikahnama are struck out at the time of marriage, and Section 8 is one of the most common casualties.