ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) is working on a more “women-friendly” marriage contract which will grant women the authority to divorce their husbands without having to seek legal aid.
This provision is actually a part of the Nikahnama under the current law, however, due to social pressure, it is never offered to the bride-to-be. Hence, women have no choice but to seek khula from a court in order to separate from their husbands. The procedure is tedious at best and puts them up to exploitation at the hand of resistant husbands.
Reported by a private media outlet, CII Chairman Qibla Ayaz said: “The nikahkhawan will be legally bound to inform the bride of her right to ask for the dissolution of marriage from her husband.”
He added that unlike khula in which the husband’s consent is mandatory for dissolution of marriage, this provision awarded to women will not require the husband’s consent as he will already have surrendered his right to the woman.
Under the proposed changes to marriage documents, the language of the contract will also be changed to make the rights of women clear.
“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According to him, the old marriage document drafted in the 1960s was outdated as it did not have provisions fit for the 21st century. While the provision for the bride to dissolve the marriage was present in the old document, it was not elaborate and the bride was often given a document in which it had already been deleted by the solemniser.
“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 the consent of the bride-to-be,” Ayaz said.
“The responsibilities of nikahkhawan will be enhanced under the proposed changes.”
Under The Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961 several important rights are awarded to women but their rights are not clearly written in the contract, including the first wife’s right to grant permission to her husband for second marriage. According to CII, the revised draft of the contract will include clear wording on the first wife’s permission for second marriage which is requirement under the existing Pakistani law.
“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 the protection of divorced women’s rights.”
In the absence of Talaqnama, the divorced women have to face questions and accusations 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, also known 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.
According to the CII chairman, the council had examined the draft of Muslim Personal Laws of India before preparing the recommendations for revisions.