Pakistan’s first-ever audio nikahnama (marriage certificate) service has been launched to provide women access to their matrimonial rights.

An initiative of Easypaisa, the service “leverages the power of technology to overcome literacy barriers and ensure education of the most important contract of life’s most significant moments,” according to a press release issued by the company.

The press release quotes the Pakistan Commission on the Status of Women as reporting that two-thirds of Pakistani women cannot comprehend their nikahnama due to literacy limitations, while the rest do not get timely access to the document.

The service can be accessed through a free helpline by calling 0341-1171222, while women can also download the Easypaisa application and listen to the nikahnama in seven different languages as well as access a sign language option.

“This empowers women, regardless of their socio-economic class or digital divide to access this information, to understand their rights and obligations within the marriage contract,” the statement reads.

Rifah Qadri, Easypaisa’s head of marketing and communications, praised the initiative for empowering women to make informed decisions about their future, and promoting transparency and financial stability.

“For decades, countless Pakistani women have entered marriages without fully understanding the terms of their Nikahnama,” she said. “This vital document, outlining their rights and responsibilities within the marriage, often remains inaccessible due to illiteracy or lack of awareness.

“By making the Nikahnama accessible to all, we are creating a more informed and empowered generation of women in Pakistan.”

According to a study in 2023 by two Pakistani human rights groups, 86 per cent of Nikkah registrars in Lahore believed the bride was not competent enough to negotiate the terms of her nikahnama, while 85pc believed that delegating the right to divorce to women in the nikahnama would increase the divorce rate, and 92pc believed the wife’s right to maintenance was subject to obedience to her husband.

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