Pakistani Women Gain Right to Choose Whom They Marry

Pakistan’s highest court ruled that a Muslim woman can marry of her own free will without the permission of her parents or guardians. According to Voice of America, this decision overrules a Lahore High Court ruling that demanded that women need parental consent to marry.

Leading human rights activist Tahira Abdullah asserted that “young girls and young women in Pakistan will have greater freedom to exercise their choice now…and those girls who are not allowed to marry of their choice…can turn around and take their cases to court,” reports Voice of America.

Asma Jehangir, a human rights activist, stated that more than 250 women are currently in prison because they married without parental consent, reports the BBC. The Independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan praised this new ruling and also called for more government action to eradicate honor killings. Hundreds of women are killed or injured each year by close relatives for so-called honor crimes.

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Associated Press 12/21/03; BBC News 12/19/03; Voice of America 12/21/03

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