Rights of Widow Women


Own family law is paramount importance within the improvement, fulfillment and prosperity of any state as it relates to the caste and character of every person dwelling in the society and therefore affects each the man or woman and the family. The first thing that involves mind is the act of marriage. After marriage, if there may be no harmony among the spouses, then the stage of divorce comes, because divorce takes area only after marriage, and then there's the guideline of 'iddah with it, which is fulfilled. It is the shar'i duty of divorced and widowed women to accomplish that. After 'iddah, the issue of lineage arises. This is why the lineage is understood. If the lineage is not known, then not anything will come to the woman's aspect except humiliation and disgrace. On the way to keep away from disgrace, the 'iddah has been warned. The intention of this studies article to focus on the rights and obligations of widows in the mild of Pakistani laws.

 There has always been a considerable amount of confusion revolving around the property rights of women in Pakistan, especially when it comes to real estate ownership and division of inherited property.

However, owing to certain social and cultural restrictions along with a general lack of awareness regarding the issue, most women in the Pakistani society don’t know their own property rights or how to effectively exercise them. This is one of the main reasons why women across the country, particularly in the rural areas, often end up giving away their share to male relatives, completely unaware of their fundamental rights under the constitution of Pakistan.

Some of the laws governing and protecting the legal property rights of women in Pakistan are as follows:

Married Women’s Property Act, 1874

Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939

Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961

Muslim Law confers upon a wife (or widow) the following three rights to compel payment of her dower and they are (1) Refusal to cohabit (2) Right to dower as a debt and (3) Right to retain her deceased husbands’ property. Under the Muslim Law, Mahr (dower) means money or property which the wife is entitled to receive from the husband in consideration of the marriage but this consideration is not the same as that of the civil contract. Dower is an obligation imposed upon the husband as a mark of respect for the wife. The major object of the dower is to provide wife for her subsistence after the dissolution of her marriage so that she may not become helpless after the death of the husband or termination of marriage by divorce. Mahr has also been considered as the part of maintenance while fixing the amount of maintenance under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

Since there is no clear cut definition as per Muslim Personal Laws regarding the dower (Mahr) amount, different High Courts and Supreme Court in different cases rendered different conceptions relating to Mahr. “Dower in the present form was introduced by the Prophet Mohammad and made obligatory by him in the case of every marriage. Marriage is a civil contract, and dower is a necessary result of it, being a part of the consideration of her agreement to become her husband’s wife by consummating the marriage. The right to dower is an inherent right of every Muslim wife. But, unless this right is effectively enforced, it is of no use to her.

Right of retention means that the woman, whose marriage has been dissolved, by death or divorce, has a right to continue to hold the possession of her husband’s property till her dower-debt is satisfied. The right of retention of the possession of her husband’s estate is not available to a wife during the subsistence of the marriage, unless she proves a contract under which she has acquired a right of lien or possession over her husband’s property.

 The right of retention only entitles her to remain in possession, and, if dispossessed, she can sue for the recovery of possession. In such a case, in respect of immovable property, the period of limitation is six months from the date of dispossession, and in respect of movable property, three years from the date on which she first learnt in whose possession the property was.

 The title in the property vests in the heirs, including the widow. The widow’s right as heir should not be confused with her right of retention which is different and distinct from the former.

As an heir, she has the rights and remedies of an heir, which are distinct from the rights and remedies of a widow whose dower has not been paid.

 The dower rights have been existed in any nations in one form or the other including Arabs. However, the concept of dower rights was refined by God and his prophet Muhammad. Islam makes dower obligatory whether written in the marriage certificate or not. A dower may be specified or proper. However, dower rights become payable on divorce or death of husband if not paid immediately after marriage. Dower rights of women are mandatory in any Muslim marriage. In Arabic language it is called Mahr, or Meher. It is a gift which becomes payable to wife immediately after marriage but before sexual intercourse. It is not essentially to be money but can be any valuable thing like property, ornaments or anything else which is agreed between the Muslim marriage partners. It is in fact a financial gain which the wife receives as a respect by virtue of the marriage contract itself.

However, it is not a ‘bride price’ in any sense. The main difference between a dower and bride price is that former is paid to the wife while the later is paid to the parents. You can understand that the wife is not selling anything to the husband. It is just a token of respect and a part of financial rights of the women in Islam.

It is generally supposed that the main object of dower in Muslim marriage is to offer protection to the wife against the arbitrary powers of the husband in exercising the right of divorce. However, it was neither goal of the dower nor intended by Quran. When procedure of Quran for divorce is followed the arbitrary powers assumed by husband in exercising the right of divorce become minimal. On the other hand the dower rights are always obligatory.
Aisha Latif

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