Blog: Informed consent in Pakistan’s marriage contracts

24 May 2019

According to the sixth Population and Housing Census held in 2017 women in Pakistan, world’s fifth most populous country forms 49% of Pakistan’s total population. This figure alone is a testament of the fact why women rights should exist in Pakistan and why there should be legal reforms protecting them. Research shows that strengthening women’s economic and legal rights has a real and positive impact on women’s labour force participation, investment and agricultural productivity.

One such project that protects the legal rights of women in Pakistan by evaluating marriage registration is Institutional Reform and Women’s De Facto Rights in Pakistan. Insights show that government officials who carry out the basic legal functions such as marriage registration often follow their own judgment. This often leads to curtailing of women rights at the time of marriage or early age marriages.

In a recent blog post in the Economist, in the intelligence unit, Dr. Kate Vyborny and Dr. Erica Field, Research Fellows at CERP, and Hana Zahir, Programme Manager at CERP shares their findings about the current state of consent in marriages in Pakistan under the Institutional Reform and Women’s De Facto Rights in Pakistan project.

The blog talks about how consent without knowledge is not attributed to full consent because in reality most brides do not know about the terms of the marriage contract. Research shows that 66% of the brides in Pakistan are not informed about the terms of the Nikah Nama, self-reports from nikah registrars. In case of underage marriages, 14.8% of women aged 20-24 were married before they were 18 years of age as the current age of marriage for women in Punjab is 16 years. Research shows in about 57% of the cases bride’s ID card has been missing, which means the registrar did not check whether the bride is underage or not.

Read more about the findings of the research and how CERP as an evaluation partner in collaboration with The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women is mending ways for more gender progressive marriage policy here.