Pakistan turns 72 today – it’s been 72 years of struggles, achievements, highs and lows. But this Independence Day we want to celebrate the freedoms this country has given us, especially the freedoms it has given women. Yes, there’s still a lot to achieve. But these 14 rights are a step towards achieving the Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam envisioned. So here’s to an inclusive and empowered Pakistan!
1. Gender Equality
The 1973 constitution stipulates equality between sexes – “there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.” This legally guarantees that women are equal to men in all spheres of life.
2. Rights Of Divorce
According to The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 a wife can seek decree of dissolution from her husband if she desires.
3. Rights Of Custody
According to Guardian and Wards Act 1890, in case of separation between the spouses, the mother has the legal right to keep the custody of her son till the age of 7, while her daughter shall remain in her custody till marriage. All the day to day expenditures of the minor, whatsoever, like feeding, clothing, lodging, education and health etc, shall be borne by the father. If the father fails to fulfill this liability the minor may seek help of the Court and the Court may fix quantum of maintenance allowance keeping in view the standard of life of both the families and coercive measures may also be used to recover the allowance from father
4. Child Marriage
Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 Marriage of girls during childhood is prohibited. The parents and the ‘nikkahkhwan‘ both are liable to be punished with imprisonment and fine if they are involved in arranging the marriage of a girl who is under sixteen years though, minimum marriage age was extended to 18 years through an amendment in family law amendment.
5. Protection Against Dowry
Dowry and Bridal Gifts (Restriction) Act, 1976 Section 3 provides that presents given to bride by her parents or the presents given to bridegroom shall not exceed five thousand rupees. Section 6 provides that expenditure on marriage including mehandi, barat and valima shall not exceed twenty-five hundred rupees. Section 9 provides that in case of violation of above the person would be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months.
6. Rights In the Work Place
According to the Factories Act of 1934, If there are more than 50 women working in a factory, there must be a day care center for their children. Moreover, Females working hours would not be more than 48 hours per week, and after every six days there would be one holiday with salary. There must be 14 annual leaves, 10 occasional leaves and 16 sick leaves with full salary to be provided to women workers. It is prohibited for the women and child workers to clean up or assemble any part of running machinery of the factory.
7. Maternity Rights
The Maternity Benefit Ordinance of 1958 prohibits the employment of women workers for a certain period before and after Women Aid Trust 18 childbirth. It also provides for payment of maternity benefit to them and prohibits the dismissal during period of pregnancy.
8. Right Of Property
Section 498-A provides that whosoever by deceitful or illegal means deprive any woman from inheriting any property shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and not less than 5 years or with fine of Rs.100,000/-. Her husband too has no right over her property!
9. Inheritance Laws
According to Section 498-A of the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011, depriving women of inheriting property by deceitful or illegal means shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to ten years but not be less than five years or with a fine of one million rupees or both
10. Rights Against Assault
According to section 354 of Pakistan’s Penal Code (PPC), 1860 a person may get two years imprisonment if he assaults a woman or uses criminal force against her with intent to outrage her modesty.
11. Protection In Marriage
Section 6 of Family Law Ordinance of 1961 prohibits second marriage of husband without prior permission of first wife, if he does so he would be liable to imprisonment which may extend to one year or fine which may extend to five thousand rupees.
12. Freedom In Marriage
Clause 17 allows both parties to stipulate any special terms or conditions they deem necessary such as the right to work or study, allowance, progeny custody, alimony, pocket money, house work, divorce conditions and so on. It gives the parties complete freedom to tailor their marriage as per their wishes.
13. Right Of Education
Women’s education in Pakistan is a fundamental right of every female citizen, according to article thirty-seven of the Constitution of Pakistan.
14. Protection Against Domestic Violence
A bill on domestic violence has been approved by National Assembly and is pending before Senate for approval. According to this enactment victim can file a case before the Court of law which would be decided as early as possible