Women’s Right to Divorce under Islamic Law in Pakistan and India Indian Muslim women’s rights are once again manifesting as debates over talaq (divorce). Shayara Bano, who holds an advanced degree in sociology, petitioned the Indian Supreme Court last year to rule on the constitutionalism of triple-talaq, in which a Muslim husband may divorce his wife by simply saying “talaq” three times with our without her consent. After she suffered fifteen years of mental and emotional abuse from her husband, he surprised her with a divorce, leaving her with little recourse for arguing terms. Shayara Bano v Union of IndiaWrit Petition (Civil) 118 of 2016 continues the pattern of using divorce cases as proxies for progressing women’s rights. Pakistan editor Zubair Abbasi notes that this is not unique to India; Pakistani judges have also “tried to ensure gender equality under Islamic divorce law, but adopted entirely different approaches.” Different judgments on various landmark cases inform these approaches. Citing the Qur’an, the Indian Supreme Court ruled in Shamim Ara v. State of U.P. (2002) that a Muslim man may not divorce his wife without reasonable cause, in effect limiting a Muslim husband’s prerogative to divorce. In comparison, the Lahore High Court in Pakistan chose an opposite approach in the 1959 Balqis Fatima case by expanding Pakistani Muslim women’s judicial right to khul’ (a woman’s limited right to divorce). The Supreme Court of Pakistan agreed with this reasoning nearly a decade later in the Khurshid Bibi case, citing the Qur’an to emphasize a husband and wife’s mutual rights and obligations. Both approaches theoretically advance the cause of gender equality, but Abbasi emphasizes the unequal results. For women such as Shayara Bano who live in fear of surprise divorces, the Pakistani approach would have provided her with the agency to declare a definite divorce, an arguably more effective and desirable outcome than the possibility of forced reconciliation. Read more. Image credit: Newsgram


JUDGMENT :: Fatima vs Qureshi (Pakistan, 1959) Judged by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan, this case advanced Muslim wives’ divorce rights in Pakistan.Three judges ruled that Islamic law — that is, according to the Hanafi School prevalent in Pakistan — requires a harmonious marriage. Should this not be possible, a woman is within her rights to obtain a khul’ (divorce declared by the wife) as long as she is willing to return any benefits received from her husband.The Supreme Court of Pakistan would go on to uphold this reasoning in later cases. Read more. Image Credit: Wikipedia


AALS Leadership Issues Statement: Of Commitments to Academic Freedom, Diversity, and Faculty Safety, including the Section on Islamic Law In a message to member law schools of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), officers of AALS remarked on ideological attacks against members who are affiliated with Islamic law, either professionally or personally. The Association stated its commitment to the safety of faculty at members schools and reiterated its “core values” of academic freedom and diversity. Should any members witness threats to academic freedom or safety of faculty, AALS will be ready to assist. Read more. Image credit: AALS


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