In 2002, an amendment to the Pakistani 1964 Civil and Family Court Act reduced the mandatory reconciliation period for divorces requested by women to three months. Now, almost 50% of civil cases in Rawalpindi district are related to women seeking divorce.
Advocate Nasreen Akhtar, who specialises in family cases, says the amended law has made it easy for women to obtain divorce.
“It has made their life safer and more secure. Now women are more confident and their spouses more careful in their married life,” she remarks. She, nonetheless, stressed that women sought help from courts only after exhausting all means of reconciliation.
Iftikharun Nisa Hassan, director of the Women’s Research and Resource Centre, Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, sees the rise in divorce cases as the “awakening of women”.
“Today women are getting educated and securing jobs and are less inclined to put up with inhuman treatment by their husbands. They are financially viable and seek second marriages for a comfortable life,” she says. (source)
Muslim men can divorce their wives by saying “I divorce you” three times. The amendment is a step towards fairness that will provide some civilizing influence on Pakistan, and is already having beneficial effects.