Gender and Land Rights Database


Women's property and use rights in personal laws

The Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961:

  • Introduced marriage registration and penalties of fines or imprisonment for failure to register. However, a Muslim marriage is still legal if it is contracted according to the religious requisites.
  • A man who wants to enter a subsequent marriage must submit an application and pay a fee to the local Union Council in order to obtain written permission for contracting a polygamous marriage. The application must state the reasons for the proposed marriage and indicate whether the applicant has obtained the consent of the existing wife or wives. The chairman of the Union Council forms an Arbitration Council in order to determine the necessity of the proposed marriage. The penalty for contracting a polygamous marriage without prior permission is that the husband must immediately pay the entire dower to the existing wife or wives, as well as being subject to a fine and/or imprisonment. A polygamous marriage contracted without the Union Council’s approval cannot be registered. Nevertheless, a subsequent marriage remains valid even if a man does not seek the permission of his existing wife or the Union Council (13).
  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 introduced penal sanctions for contracting child marriages. The minimum marriage age is set at 18 years for men and 16 for women. However, under-age marriages are not rendered invalid (13).

The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, amended in 1961:

  • Article 2: Provides the grounds on which a woman married under Muslim Law is entitled to obtain a decree for the dissolution of her marriage.
  • Article 2 [VIII] [D]: A wife is entitled to all the property that she has earned for herself and also to the benefits deriving from the property of the husband. If dissolution of marriage is demanded by the wife, she is not entitled to a dower. Upon dissolution of marriage, the husband has no right on the property of the wife (8).
  • The Act guarantees women with the right to divorce, also knows as Khula; however, it requires a specific intervention on the part of the court (8).
  • Article 9: During the whole duration of marriage, maintenance of the wife is responsibility of the husband (8).
  • The Act has been amended by Article 6 of the 1961 Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, which entitles a woman to a decree for the dissolution of the marriage, if her husband contracts a polygamous marriage in contravention of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance (13).

The Married Women’s Property Act, 1874:

  • A married woman has the right to separate property and to taking legal proceedings in her own name. A married woman is liable for her contracts regarding her property (8).

The 1872 Contract Act guarantees men and women with the same rights to freedom of trade, business and profession (8).

The Civil Servants Act of 1973 states that no discrimination shall be made between men and women with regards to remuneration and benefits in the public sector.
In the private sector also, entities, which fall within the purview of labour laws, have to give the same remuneration, allowances and benefits to all employees doing the same work, regardless of gender (8).

- Article 45 of the 1934 Factories Act and Article 23 [C] of the 1923 Mines Act prohibit employment of women in a night shift (8).

- The 1963 Hazardous Occupations Rules prohibits employing women in hazardous occupations (8).

- Article 17-2 of the 1984 Law of Evidence requires a male witness for the promulgation of legal contracts comprising women and equates the testimony of two women to that of one single man in the settling of financial transactions (8).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography