Dead at Home, Alive Abroad
Restitution of Conjugal Rights in South Asia
The remedy of restitution of conjugal rights (RCR) has its roots in canon law. It was incorporated into Muslim, Hindu and Parsi personal laws through the judgements of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council during the British colonial period. It has been abolished in the United Kingdom in 1970 when a Law Commission report found it ineffective in saving marriages. In South Asia, however, this remedy is still available despite constitutional challenges to it before superior courts. The Federal Shariat Court refused to declare this remedy invalid in its judgements reported in 2016. This is despite the fact that far from saving marriages, this remedy is routinely abused by husbands as a countermeasure in response to suits of maintenance, custody of children, recovery of dower and dowry, and dissolution of marriage. Devoid of any Islamic basis, the RCR remedy violates the right to liberty, privacy, and equality as guaranteed under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 and should be declared illegal and unconstitutional.
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