- If urgent action is needed in case of divorce, Khula or dissolution of marriage it is strongly advised to refer to a lawyer at the earliest. Sometimes, in case of husband’s death women may face problems over inheritance rights.
- It is important to know that in marriage, the one thing a woman should never put up with is physical violence and abuse. It must be stopped the very first time or it will be repeated & increase both in frequency & severity, but will never stop. Never take it lightly.
- In the short term and for immediate help, it is best to refer to the section on the list of lawyers & Organizations that provide free service for women, who cannot afford a lawyer. Immediate advice from a good professional is much better.
- For urgent advice and understanding your situation, you can seek advice on the APWA Legal Aid Call Centre Helpline on the phone.
- For Divorce, Khula, Dissolution, Child Custody and Inheritance at the death of a husband or father you can seek Legal Aid from the organizations listed below:
- APWA Legal Aid Call Centre Helpline
- Crisis Center, Ministry of Women’s Development
- Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid (LHRLA)
What constitutes a marriage legally?
A marriage in legal terms can be defined as a contract made in due form of law, by which a free man and a free woman reciprocally agree to live with each other during their joint lives, as husband and wife.
The terms free man and free woman in this definition means they are able to exercise their free will to propose & accept and are clear of all bars to a lawful marriage. For a valid marriage, both parties must be willing to contract, able to contract, and actually contract marriage through their consent.
What are the requirements for a marriage contract to be legal & valid?
The legal age of marriage at the time of Nikah has to be 18 years. The law does not recognize the marriage as legal if it is arranged earlier and the girl is under-age.
- Nikahnama (the marriage contract document)
- Registration of the Nikahnama
- Meher – the contract money for the Nikah, paid at the Nikah. For more information on Haq Meher, please see Rights in a Muslim Marriage
- 2 Witnesses (on behalf of the girl)
- 1 Wakeel or Lawyer (on behalf of the girl)
- 1 Nikah-khwah – can be any official Maulvi of a registered Mosque (as it helps regis
tering the Nikah) or any Male Muslim
Advice: When filling the Nikahnama you must ensure that all the sections are fully filled. The clause allowing a woman the right to divorce should be filled and not cancelled (as is common practice). It is a clause for the safety of a woman & to prevent future violence & harassment.
Circumstances under which women suffer harassment/violence are:
Divorce, Khula, Payment of Meher, Child Custody and Inheritance after husband’s death. The most important document is the presence of a fully filled (all clauses) Nikahnama and a stamped copy must be kept by women.
Legal age of marriage is 18 and the law does not recognize the marriage as legal if it is arranged earlier and the girl is under-age. However, under-age girls are married and it is accepted unless contested in court on these grounds.
A marriage arranged under 18 years is considered fraudulent & subject to punishment, carrying a jail sentence of 2 years.
What are a woman’s Marriage Rights?
The man is responsible to fulfill all maintenance requirements of his wife.
Laws of Pakistan Concerning Muslim Marriages:
The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 has made under-age marriages a penal offence. Under the Act the minimum age of marriage for a male is 18 years whereas the minimum age of marriage for a female is 16 years. Despite the fact that under-age marriages are liable to punishment, such unions are not rendered invalid.
Consent of Wali
According to the Hanafi school, an adult woman may contract her marriage without the consent of a wali.
Registration of Marriages
The Muslim Family Laws Ordinance (MFLO) 1961 introduced reforms regarding registration of marriages, and in default of such registration, penalties of fine and imprisonment have been prescribed. Nevertheless, Muslim marriages are still legal and valid if they are performed according to the requisites of Islam.
MFLO has also introduced some reforms in the law relating to polygamy. Now, a husband must submit an application and pay a prescribed fee to the local union council in order to obtain permission for contracting a polygamous marriage. Thereafter, the chairman of the union council forms an arbitration council with representatives of both husband and wife/wives in order to determine the necessity of the proposed marriage. The application must state whether the husband has obtained consent of the existing wife or wives. Contracting a polygamous marriage without prior consent is subject to penalties of fine and or imprisonment and the husband becomes bound to make immediate payment of dowry to the existing wife or wives. Nonetheless, if the husband has not obtained consent of the existing wife or wives the subsequent marriage still remains valid.