By: Sadia Tariq
The author is an advocate and marriage counsellor.
“Haan Bibi kiya soocha aap ne, rehna hai apne mian ke saath ya nahe?”
(So what have you decided, do you wish to live with your husband or not?)
This is a typical question a Judge asks a woman, who files a case in the court for obtaining “khula” (divorce initiated by a female). The usual reply from most of the women is:
“No Sir, I don’t want to live with my husband anymore.”
The Judge then announces the dissolution of the marriage by way of khula between the couple. And it adds up as one more entry into my list of disposal cases.
As cases add on to my list, they bring a lot of questions to my mind. Will this woman miss her good memorable time spent with her ex-husband? Or will she just remember those bad phases, on grounds of which, she applied for khula? What will this woman now do? How will she tackle her life? How will she now plan for her future?
Handling such cases on a daily basis, the major question that arises in mind is:
Is taking khula considered as a stigma or a relief in our society?
In most of the khula cases, the woman feels relieved after getting rid of her husband from her life, even without realizing the repercussions to be faced by her in future along with the stigma as “khulayafta” (divorced) as the society labels such women to some extent. But nowadays, the trend of taking khula has increased and it is no more considered as a stigma to a certain extent.
I always try my level best to convince my clients to preserve their so called empty shell of marriage, for the sake of their children (if any), and for the honour of their families. However, most of my clients at the very first stage of their meeting always come with a pre-determined decision with regard to taking khula. It is momentous that nobody in this world is perfect. But after dealing with so many cases, I have realized that every woman has a right to live according to her free will, rather than always giving sacrifices.
The common ground for taking khula is that the husband is extremely strict, short-tempered, criticizes the wife a lot, unable to provide for her, unable to defend her when required, and not able to give her the rights or privileges that she deserves, so on and so forth.
Our social setup is the major culprit behind khula. Our society always expects a woman to suffer for the sake of her children. She is expected her to be an angel who keeps on obeying without questioning, and has no feelings. Everybody expects her to be PERFECT all the time!
Too much suppression leads to depression.
Latest studies show that women are twice as likely as men to be depressed. The hormonal changes that a woman goes through at different stages of her life, along with emotional traumas such as violence, physical and emotional abuse become the major reasons for depression.
There is a dramatic change in the whole scenario as soon as a girl enters her married life. Whether or not she was spoilt at her parents’ house, it has been seen that the “susraal” (in laws’ place) has never been able to become her home completely.
Every married person has definitely been through some memorable moments after engagement and before getting married. The moment a girl is engaged, she usually gets involved with her fiancé, through telephone conversations (thanks to mobile night packages). They live in a fairy tale world till the time when the marriage date is fixed. As the wedding day comes nearer, the girl becomes the centre of attention of her family and relatives. Everybody starts sharing their experiences and expert opinions. She starts getting free advice on how to handle a pierced nose, how to deal with in-laws, how to take care of health and last but not the least how to become the favourite bahoo (daughter in law). Suddenly, all those wonderful moments and fantasies are forced to be erased from her life because of the tough life that she has to face at the hands of her in laws and her husband, who is usually unable to handle his wife and his family tactfully.
Another major factor is the forced marriage of a girl in our society with a man whom she doesn’t like at all. It’s natural that when a woman is in love, she willfully bears all the hardships, be it unreasonable behaviour of in-laws or financial crisis. The woman then understands her husband’s problems and tries to solve them together with the husband instead of blaming him for the problem and the family for getting her into this misery.
If the journey of a woman’s marriage starts with undue pressure from her parents then she will not be able to develop a healthy family environment, which ultimately leads to depress her whole family. In previous times, the woman would suffer in this situation all her life, but now such a situation results in khula.
But the question is: Is Khula a relief?
If for a second, we take this impression that khula is a relief from her short-tempered, irresponsible, sometimes jobless, sadist, Mama’s boy; will she be ready to spend her entire life alone along with her kids? (if she gets their custody). Being a single parent in this society is a tough job. No matter how supportive her parents are and how much educated she is, she must keep herself busy and try to come out from the trauma which she has been through. She must prepare herself for a new life and start putting behind her past. It will be beneficial for her if she learns from her mistakes instead of running away from them. She will have to suffer her loneliness alone, since taking khula was after all her own choice.
Although a new trend of social acceptance of khulayaftas / divorcees in our society has developed which was once considered as only a stigma, there are a lot of social challenges that a woman has to face. The awareness of legal rights has also developed in our society which was quite uncommon a few decades back. But it’s undue and unwisely implementations could also lead to destruction of a happy family. Remarriages of khulayaftas / divorcees is also gradually becoming acceptable in our society contrary to how it was a few decades ago, despite the permission given by our religion.
Taking khula is a girl’s right but she must keep in mind the repercussions and make herself strong enough to face the upcoming challenges.
Once a woman takes the decision, she should implement it promptly in order to avoid the phase of separation wherein she is neither enjoying a marital life nor legally considered as khulayafta / divorced, which will ruin her life’s precious years. She should think of this phase of her life as a horror or boring chapter of a novel and turn the page so that a new and interesting chapter of the book of life appears in front of her.
The day when a woman gets khula from the court, which in her opinion is a relief from the hell in which she was burning, she must then prepare herself to face other important tasks such as child’s custody and maintenance (if needed). These are no doubt her legal rights but she cannot get them instantly due to court’s procedures. No matter whether the marriage has been dissolved through talaq or khula, it should be done after completion of all legal formalities and adopting the legal procedures in order to avoid any future implications. Failure to do so can raise doubts about the effectiveness of the marriage’s dissolution and lead to serious legal issues. The most important thing that should be kept in mind while taking khula is that the woman has to relinquish her dower amount or refund it if received from her husband earlier, unlike in divorce where husband himself initiates the divorce proceeding. In that case he is required to pay the full dower amount to his ex-wife.
A woman seeking khula is therefore a better judge in deciding whether taking khula is either a Stigma or a Relief. But she must remember this:
“If you wait for miracles to happen, then bear in mind that no person in this world can change your life unless YOU want it to change.”
Dedicating this motivational song of a Pakistani film “Bol”:
mumkin hai, mumkin hai, bahar mumkin hai,
to ignite a ray of hope in the life of all women who are suffering from this pain and hesitate to express or share.
Advocate Sadia Tariq may be contacted at:
Advocate Sadia Tariq may be contacted at: