Pakistani man jailed for six months for remarrying without first wife’s consent

Picture by Bhavna Barratt

A Pakistani court has jailed a man for six months for marrying a second woman without his first wife’s permission.

Judicial magistrate Ali Jawwad Naqvi announced the verdict in a Lahore court, ordering the man to serve a six-month jail term and pay a fine of Rs200,000.

It was the first time a court in Pakistan had sided with a woman under a 2015 family law, and followed a petition by Ayesha Bibi, who said her husband, Shahzad Saqib, had wed for a second time without her approval.

“To get married without your first wife’s permission is breaking the law,” she had argued in her appeal.

The court rejected the man’s argument that he did not need her permission because his religion allowed him four marriages.

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam, has often criticised the demand for a wife’s written approval if her husband wants to remarry. But the CII recommendations are not legally binding.

Some “women rights” activists applauded the ruling.

“It is encouraging that a wronged woman has used this law to complain to the court. The decision augurs well for women’s empowerment,” Romana Bashir, who heads a non-governmental organisation, Peace and Development Foundation, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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