In a society, that has always had a penetrating, rather dominating gaze on the actions of women, many instances have started propping up, that have taken it by surprise. Recent data retrieved from family courts reveals that where Khula – the right of a woman to seek divorce – is concerned, Pakistani women today are on the brink of a social change, with the number of cases drastically increasing.

According to data, 13,299 Khula cases were reported in the Punjab in 2012, which later rose to 14,243 in 2013, and in 2014, they went up to 16,942. In 2016, they have increased to 18,901. The reason for this hefty increase has been cited as “economic, emotional awareness in women, outer interference in married life and others.”

Even with Council of Islamic Ideology’s recent declaration that it is un-Islamic for courts to use Khula, without the consent of the husband (oxymoronically defeating the entire purpose of the Islamic right to Khula), Pakistan’s family law allows it. It seems that women now are more ready to exercise this right, when a marriage becomes too much to bear- something that they have to for the most part suffered in silence in. This in itself is not a bad thing. While we may see a rise in marriages breaking, it is because a generation of women have found that they can survive in the world without having to rely on the mercies of men. This is not just a change that women are going though, but society as a whole will adjust to. This signals the future decline of domestic violence and disputes, if families want marriages to last.

As compared to the Marriage Dissolution Act of 1939, Khula is an easier process of separation as compare to the tedious process of divorce. It only takes three months to take Khula, where the woman does not have to prove any reason for it – the reason being as vague as her not liking her husband’s features. Again, this is all Islamically and legally acceptable. While over the ages no one has even raised an eyebrow over divorce rates as they all come from men, there is no reason to shame women over rising divorce rates now.

For many women suffering from domestic violence, physical and emotional abuse, Khula has become a life-saving decision. For many, it is not the first option, and going through with it is no easy task. It is a very serious decision and must still be treated as such, but without demonising the idea of women’s rights.