Pakistan: Family Law

Pakistan and the Hague Abduction Convention

The United States has now accepted Pakistan's accession to the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention. The Convention will enter into force between the two countries on October 1, 2020.

It is not clear whether the decision to accept the accession is a result of a dispassionate review of the Pakistani laws, regulations and processes that are designed to implement the Convention or whether the decision is a political one by the Trump administration.

The mere fact that the treaty is in force does not mean that it will be effective.

Pakistan has been consistently non-compliant with international norms concerning the return of children who are abducted to Pakistan. In prior years, the U.S. State Department reported frequently to Congress that that was the case.

Unless and until Pakistan has established a clear track record of compliance with the treaty, including compliance with the express obligation to return abducted children expeditiously within a target of six weeks from the commencement of judicial proceedings, it is my opinion that great skepticism should be reserved before allowing children to visit Pakistan over the good faith opposition of a potentially left-behind parent.

It is also essential to understand that the Convention contains no provisions that will require recognition and enforcement of foreign custody orders.

I invite a review of my blog article, Expert Witness: Child Relocation To Pakistan


DIVORCE IN PAKISTAN: Pakistani Law and Violence against Women

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) of Pakistan ruled on March 31, 2007 that a woman who is raped should not be considered guilty of adultery and should be viewed under the law as a victim of rape.

The ruling may reduce the impact of the Hudood Ordinances adopted in Pakistan in 1979 under which in order to prove her case, a woman has to produce four adult Muslim men as witnesses to testify before an Islamic court that they saw the forced sexual act. If the victim fails to produce the witnesses she will be accused of adultery and sent to prison or lapidated. The same rules provide that evidence provided by non Muslims is not admissible before a court. However, the CII is merely an advisory body. 

But in an article entitled Violence Against Women and International Law, New York International Law Review, Vol. 20, p.57 (Winter 2007), Rebecca Adams states that in Pakistan: 

  1. The subordination of women is effectively written into the law. Women have limited or no recourse when they are victimized by domestic violence.
  2. Men view their wives as property and in fact, certain interpretations of Islamic law allow husbands to control and physically discipline their wives as necessary.
  3. Evidence suggests that somewhere between 70 and 90% of Pakistani women are victims of domestic violence.
  4. The Pakistani legal system is comprised of tribal codes, Islamic law, Indo-British judicial traditions and customary traditions that have created an atmosphere of oppression around women, where any advantage or opportunity offered to women by one law, is cancelled out by one or more of the others.
  5. Pakistan does not have any specific legislation against domestic violence.
  6. Even egregious crimes such as honor killings, where a mane murders his wife for apparent or suspected infidelity, almost always receive minimal punishment.
  7. Women who bring claims of assault often face bias within the justice system from police officers, prosecutors and judges who are  more likely to believe that a woman is trying to "frame" a man or that domestic violence is a private matter that is sanctioned by the law and culture.
  8. A woman claiming sexual assault is more likely to be jailed for fornication or adultery than to be successful in her suit.
  9. Marriage is a complete defense to a charge of rape.

Providing wise and experienced legal counsel to international families for many years

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