The Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan has reportedly ruled that women cannot seek divorce without the consent of a husband. The religious body ruled on Feb. 18 that courts in Pakistan must stop granting and recognizing divorces without the husband’s approval.
Many women in Pakistan were reportedly unsure whether their marriages were officially dissolved after using Khula, the right of a woman to dissolve a marriage, reports the Express Tribune.
The Council ruled that women using ‘Khula’ without permission from the husband was ‘un-Islamic’.
“While Shariah has explicitly defined the framework and procedure for Khula, it has not been defined in the country’s existing marriage laws,” said the Council .
The Islamic Council also ruled that husbands must be afforded the right to appeal any court decision to approve a divorce.
In most areas of Pakistan, women must forfeit all financial and property rights when a marriage is dissolved.
The recent decision appears to be at odds with previous, more secular interpretations of marriage and divorce in Pakistan.
“Judicial Khula is allowed to be authorized without the husband’s consent if the wife has agreed to forfeit her financial rights. Marriage is not considered a sacrament among Muslims but rather a civil contract with spiritual and moral undertones,” reads Pakistan’s Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, says Daily Pakistan.
Religious freedom has been threatened as orthodox Muslim traditions have played a larger role in Pakistan’s government in the last two years, reports Human Rights Watch.
“Blasphemy laws” are used to routinely condone discrimination against religious minorities, and violence against non-Muslims can be carried out with impunity.
Women’s rights are particularly threatened in Pakistan. Approximately 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are forced to marry Muslim men every year in Pakistan, according to a report by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan.
Attacks against women, including stoning, domestic violence and forced marriage, can generally be carried out In Pakistan without fear of repercussion.