NationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 48

Remedy against ‘parasite,’ violent husbands

Sawera Amjad did not know she was moving on the way to a life worse than hell when she started replying to Whatsapp messages of an unidentified person on her mobile phone. She started it as a fun activity only, as she had ample time at her disposal almost daily. A good looking girl in her mid-20s, she was working as a beautician at a ‘beauty parlour’ in her neighbourhood. Being the third one among her five sisters, she was supposed to wait for some more years to get married.

However, her ‘chance’ chatting with Naveed Iqbal, her ‘Whatsapp friend’, changed the situation totally, not only for her but also for her entire family. After meeting the man, who was in his early 30s, at some fast food points and some parks for around six months, the two decided to get married “at the earliest”. Naveed Iqbal, as he told Sawera, was a sales supervisor for a tobacco company, and was getting a “handsome salary”. He was living with his mother in a rented house in the same locality, and there was no one else in his family.

Sawera told her elder sister, who was the only married one among all her siblings, about the man and their “joint decision to contract a marriage”. Her shocked sister first tried to convince her to leave such crucial matters to their parents to decide at the right time. But, then realising her inflexibility on the issue, she told their mother about it. It raised the family environment temperatures for a few days, with heated debates and harsh exchanges almost all the time in the house.

However, Sawera’s father was a seasoned and level-headed person, who knew it well that it would be hard for him to convince his ‘working’ daughter to wait for her turn to get married. He called a family meeting and told Sawera in clear words that he had suspicions about the credentials of Naveed Iqbal. He believed the guy was not sharing the whole truth about his family and his job, and she might face serious problems in her married life. The family head told them he was against such a marriage, and Sawera should not blame them when she would be facing serious consequences of her decision.

However, the woman, mad in the love of the prince of her dreams, was not convinced at all, and was ready to deal with all hardships, come what may. In a few weeks, Sawera was married off to Naveed Iqbal, though her parents could not arrange for a good dowry for her.

And then started a long, unending nightmare of Sawera Amjad’s life: On the very first night of her marriage, she came to know, rather was told by her husband boastfully, that there was no concept of life for him without drinking and women. Within the next few weeks, other realities also dawned on her, like her husband didn’t have any regular job; he had already divorced two women as they were not ready to bring money for him, either from their parents, or through some jobs. Sawera received her first beating at the hands of her ‘loving’ hubby only in the second month of her marriage when she refused to give her monthly wages, she had received from her employer, to her husband and insisted he should also work.

However, she was a woman of strong nerves. She did not go back to her parents, crying and seeking help. Instead, she decided to face her nightmare on her own. She deliberated on going to the police, as she knew domestic violence was a crime, but then decided against it as she feared her life might become more difficult in such a situation. Naveed Iqbal had also warned her, he would throw acid on her face if she ever thought of leaving him.

Living in the Shahdara area of Lahore, Sawera became a mother of three in the last six years. After the first baby, her employer, the beauty parlour owner, had expelled her from the job. She started stitching clothes of women in the neighbourhood to earn some money; she also teaches students at her two-room rented house, and performs other odd jobs. And her husband snatches a major part of these small earnings, to meet his special needs including hash smoking, drinking and buying clothes for him.

Agha Intizar Ali Imran, Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, however, doesn’t approve of the method adopted by Sawera Amjad to deal with her domestic situation. He says a man is bound by the law to provide basic needs of life, food, clothing and shelter to his wife and children. “If he doesn’t, they have the remedy to approach family court, which will fix the maintenance allowances after trial. And if, even then he doesn’t pay, the execution of a decree is the legal way which will be executed by attachment/ auction of his property, coupled with warrants for arrest,” he shares the legal options with the writer.

The chairman of Agha Law Excellence tells women like Sawera that a woman and her children could file a suit for maintenance allowances for them against a husband/ father before a family court under Section 7 of the Family Courts Act, 1964. Intimation to husband/father would be sent by the party through court under Section 8 of the Act ibid. The respondent would file his written statement in the court under Section 9 and, under Section 10 of the Act, pre-trial proceedings i.e. an effort of reconciliation between the parties would be made by the court under Section 10.

Agha Imran, who has over 20-year law practice experience to his credit, says that in the case of failure of reconciliation, the court would call evidence of both parties turn by turn under Section 11 and after concluding the evidence, a decree would be passed by the court as to what extent of amount the maintenance allowances should be fixed. The amount is decided keeping in view the capacity of the man as well as the needs of plaintiffs under Section 12 of the Act ibid.

The Supreme Court lawyer says that in a case the decree is not satisfied by the judgement debtor, the court, on the application filed by the plaintiffs, will execute the same through attachment of property along with warrants for arrest under Section 13. Besides, the family courts have the powers of magistrates under Section 20 of the Family Courts Act, 1964. The lawyer believes the lenient attitude of women towards their husbands, who give them nothing except for beatings, encourages them to continue with their inhuman treatment. He suggests that women like Sawera should seek legal remedy so that ‘parasite’ husbands like Naveed Iqbal could be taught a lesson, and refrained from destroying lives of women by marrying them despite the fact that they earn nothing to support their families.


The writer is a physician by profession. She has worked as an intern at the Capital Health (New Jersey) & the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital (New York). Rights and gender issues are the areas of special interest to her. She can be reached at: [email protected]