The Express Tribune Editorial 12 March 2021
Property rights of women
The Supreme Court has upheld that under the Sharia Law, a wife is entitled to the bridal gifts she receives at the time of her marriage, and that these are her property and stay so. Additions to these gifts can be made but she cannot be deprived of them because they are her property. The divisional bench of the top court has stated this in a recent 12-page judgment, authored by Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, in a property case.
Islam allows a woman to own and dispose of property; retain her income and property; do business without the permission of her father and husband; and spend or utilise what she earns. In contrast to all this, experience shows, and as the court too observed, that at times Quranic injunctions are not followed. Some unscrupulous, selfish and ignorant people violate women’s property and other rights that Islam has granted them. Brothers and other relatives deprive women of their share in the paternal property under the pretext that they (women) had been given their share in the form of dowry at the time of marriage. It is an entirely un-Islamic and false notion. What is at play in such cases is that local customs and practices take precedence over religious laws. People usurp property rights of women by resorting to other retrogressive practices and customs, which differ from region to region. This protects such men from society’s criticism despite the fact that these customs run contrary to what religion prescribes. Women and men have equal rights in Islam.
Islam granted women rights with regard to property and income centuries ago when the West did not have even a rudimentary comprehension of women’s rights. This can be attributed to the belief that after marriage, men and women were regarded as one person in law. What was a woman’s property and income belonged to the husband after marriage. Such unjust laws came under trenchant criticism.
Ramazan relief package
The relief package announced by the government for this Ramazan is aimed at providing consumers the much-needed comfort when prices of essential commodities have continuously been rising, and currently inflation stands at 8.7%. The holy month is expected to start from April 12. The package is to ensure availability of essential commodities to limited-income groups at affordable prices. A total of 19 essential items will be provided at outlets of the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) at controlled prices. The main focus will, however, be on basic foodstuffs such as wheat, sugar and ghee/cooking oil.
According to the government, during the holy month, wheat flour will be made available at a rate Rs30-50 per kg lower than the prevailing price in the open market, sugar at Rs40 kg and ghee/cooking oil at Rs40 per kg less than the market rate, thereby reducing consumers’ kitchen budget by a wide margin. In all, 70,000 tons of wheat flour, 50,000 tons of sugar and 30,000 tons of ghee/cooking oil will be available at utility stores. There are 4,000 USC outlets across the country. Procurement of the essential commodities to be provided at utility stores will begin from April 1, so that these items are available to the common people on time.
The relief package, approved by the Economic Coordination Committee, will entail a subsidy of Rs7.8 billion. Last year, the government could provide a Ramazan relief package of only a little over Rs2 billion due to the unprecedented circumstances in the wake of the then raging coronavirus pandemic. The same meeting of the ECC which approved the relief package also okayed, in principle, giving targeted subsidies to only those power consumers who consume less electricity and withdrawing these from well-off sections who consume more electricity. This measure will ensure that only the deserving benefit from the subsidies. We hope that the government will also see to it that people get regular electricity supply during the holy month. This should not be limited to a mere promise.