KARACHI: While the pandemic offered a rare opportunity for family reunions, the cases of separation filed in family courts jumped by over 700 per cent during 2020, it has emerged.

Around 5,891 cases of khula (separation) filed by females across the province over the last two years were pending trial before the family courts, the official statistics suggested.

The figures suggested an increase of up to 722pc in the cases filed by the female litigants seeking khula from their husbands over domestic issues during 2020 against the preceding year 2019.

The figures suggested that 632 family suits for khula were instituted across the province in 2019.

However, around 5,198 women approached the courts to seek dissolution of their marriage during 2020.

‘Unlike in dramas, real life is very different and difficult’

Of them, over 4,050 were instituted in five districts of Karachi.

The statistics showed that around 435 family suits for khula were instituted in the courts of district Malir in 2019 compared to 387 in 2020.

In district West, 98 suits were filed in 2019 compared to 505 in 2020.

In district Central, 154 suits were filed in 2019 compared to 883 in 2020.

In district South, 46 suits were instituted in 2019 compared to 422 in 2020.

In district East, 259 suits were instituted in 2019 compared to 1,249 in 2020.

Islam takes distinction over other religions when it comes to women’s rights, going as far as allowing a woman to seek divorce (khula) from her husband if he fails to fulfil his obligations.

The lawyers say one of the reasons why women approach the courts for separation from their husbands is that they fail to fulfil their obligations.

Most of the female litigants avoided talking to the media to explain the reasons for seeking separation from their husbands.

But Advocate Saima Qureshi, who specialises in family litigation, told Dawn that “in most of the cases the husbands fail to perform their social duties towards maintenance and well-being of their wives.”

She added: “The second reason is that young girls dream of a luxurious life after marriage as they see in the glamorous television dramas and films. Real life is very different and difficult,” she reasoned.

Impact of pandemic

Year 2020 proved to be hardest in decades, as the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic across the world largely affected the people both in the shape of an economic crisis as well as social behaviours.

The country-wide lockdown during the pandemic resulted in losses of the means of livelihood for hundreds of thousands of people, particularly from the uneducated low-income groups, leading to an increase in the figures of joblessness.

However, the pandemic also offered a rare opportunity for the people to stay indoors and spend time with the family, as the fears of spread of the coronavirus created panic in society.

This, Advocate Qureshi says, also resulted in rise in domestic issues.

“As the male members of the family lost their jobs and spent almost 24 hours at homes it definitely resulted in quarrels in the families since they were unable to make both ends meet,” she added.

The lockdown also forced the people to adopt social distancing, which meant the families were compelled to stay indoors most of the time.

“I think, staying at home for the males also contributed to the incidents of domestic torture, thus leading the women to seek khula,” the lawyer said.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2021

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