Exclusive: Of 30 women interviewed; 19 denied their due right of ‘Mahr’

KABUL (SW) – Salam Watandar has found in a series of exclusive interviews that a large number of women have been denied their right to ‘Mahr’ money after their divorce by husband or his family.

In conversations that Salam Watandar conducted with 30 women in Kabul and a number of provinces about whether or not they received their right to mahr, 19 of them said that they could not get it and 11 others said that they did receive it.

Among them, eight of them were able to get this right with the consent of their husbands and three of them with great difficulty.

Mahr, which is considered one of the conditions of Shariah marriage, is money or a valuable gift that is surrendered or promised to the woman by the husband during the marriage, but due to the prevailing traditions in Afghan society, many women are deprived of this right.

Among the 19 women in this report who have not received their mahr, 10 of them did not know about the right to mahr and nine of them could not get it due to various reasons such as ignoring the right to mahr by the husband or the husband’s family or their financial incapacity and the ruling traditions in the society.

Some of these women said that mahr is one of their Shariah rights, but their husbands’ lack of knowledge about this right and their husbands’ warning of the consequences of requesting it have caused them to be deprived of it.

Hangama, a resident of Kabul city and a woman who lost her husband after the de-facto government took to power, said that her husband disrespectfully forbade her to ask for her mahr when he was alive, and now her husband’s family also forbids her from asking for it, which is her religious right.

She adds: “No one had given me the right to mahr, so my life was not very good; When there was a conversation, he said to get out of the house because he knew that he had not set a mahr, he told me whatever he felt like it. Then my husband was killed during the Emirate period. No one was with me. My brothers-in-law had blocked me from social networks. I even asked for household appliances, but they didn’t give them and warned me.”

Nazifa, another resident of Kabul, said that her husband prevented her from receiving mahr by warning that the relationship would end if she asked for it. “I got married in Iran and decided the mahr myself. In Afghanistan, if we ask for the right to mahr, they say that you are divorced, and that is why I did not take it. The right to mahr is given when a woman divorces.”

A number of women who did not get their mahr and whose husbands also died due to illness or civil wars, say that their husbands’ families also refuse to give them their right.

Kochi, a resident of Kabul and one of such women, said: “My husband died due to Corona. They told me that if I had gotten my divorce, I would have been given the right to mahr, but now, so I have not taken action. My husband’s second wife asked for it and my father-in-law told her that why did not you take it when your husband was alive? They say that you can only ask for mahr when you get divorce. I was threatened that if I ask for it they would kill me in the court. I had to hear this just by mentioning, imagine demanding it through courts!”

Zulaikha, a resident of Jowzjan, said: “My husband used to go to wars. It has been eight years since he died. I have become homeless. Since he left, I was in trouble, we did not get a mahr, I had bad feeling, and I demanded my right to mahr. My mahr was the land, but my father-in-law said I had no proof or any right? I have seen many bad days.”

A number of women who are not aware of their right to mahr and have been deprived of it, believe that the right to mahr is the same money that is taken by the girl’s family from the boy’s family before the wedding, which is different.

Tayeba, a resident of Takhar, said: “In our region, some people call it ‘qalin’, some people call it the girl’s mahr. Some give 200 to 400 thousand afghanis, but in our time, the rate was 100,000. It was 60,000 for me. Because my parents were not there so my brother got the money since it is not customary for the girl to get the money herself.”

Fariba, a resident of Balkh, said: “I do not understand what the mahr is. This is the first time we have heard. Toyana (dowry money paid at the time of wedding) was something we knew from the beginning, in the north side. In the Mazar-e-Sharif area it is around 200 to 400 thousand afganis.”

However, a number of women who have received their mahr say that they were able to obtain this right after many problems. Lailuma, a divorced woman and a resident of Kabul, says that she was able to get it after discussing her right to mahr with government agencies.

Likewise, Maryam, a resident of Jowzjan, whose husband died of cancer four years ago, says that during her husband’s lifetime, she was able to get her mahr by enduring many difficulties. “Almost eight years have passed since my marriage. My husband died of cancer. It has been four years since his death. Although they did not want to give my mahr and they demanded that I should give up, but I asked for my needs, but my husband’s family was not very agreeable, and my husband was very argumentative.”

A number of women interviewed in this report said that they have given up on their right to mahr to their husbands because they are satisfied with their life together.

Bibi Shirin, a resident of Kabul and a woman who gave away her mahr right to her husband, said: “If the lady is not calm in her husband’s house and has problems, it is good to take it but if she does not have any problems. I gave up because I have no need, I do business myself, I do not have any need.”

Yasamin, another resident of Kabul and a woman who gave her mahr right to her husband, also said: “I got married almost 10 years ago and my mahr was 500,000, and since my husband is a good person and a hard worker, so he supports me and my children so that is why I forgave.”

However, many other women say that their husbands agree to pay their mahr without any problems.

Diba, a resident of Kabul, said: “We got it. My husband is an understanding person. It was almost one million afghanis. The situation in each culture is different, and since I had no dowry money, my mahr was one million. Yes, I got it. My family is enlightened.”

Salima, another resident of Kabul, said: “The mahr was determined by me and I got it fortunately. Because it is the halal right of women. My mahr was around 300,000 afghanis. When my father-in-law and mother-in-law died, their house was sold and the amount of money that was my husband’s share was give to me as the right to mahr and I was allowed to buy with it whatever I want.”

Meanwhile, the domestic affairs lawyers say that with the marriage contract, women are entitled to mahr and it is necessary for men to be diligent in paying it.

Banafsha, a legal expert, says: “According to Article 98 of the Civil Code, once a woman gets married, she can claim her right to mahr, and if the mahr was not specified at the time of the marriage, the woman can claim her own mahr. It is necessary to demand and pay it, and when a couple breaks up or the husband dies, the court sets a certain time until then the wife’s mahr is paid.”

Women’s rights activists believe that mahr guarantees the future of women, but in Afghan society, no attention is paid to this right of women.

Wazhma Yaqubi, a women’s rights activist, said: “One of the most important rights that belongs to women is the right to mahr, and when a woman gets married, it is her right. Mahr can be money, land, or gold. The mahr is the guarantee of a woman’s future, and it is the choice of the woman whether she gives her mahr right to her husband or not.”

By analysing the verses of the Holy Quran, religious scholars say that the mahr is the religious right of women, and this gift is paid to them by honouring the position of women in the society, and it is necessary for every man to give this sacred gift as per the wedding contract.

Rahimullah Keshaf, one of the religious scholars, said: “Mahr is obligatory in Islam and it is obligatory for the husband to pay it. God says in the Holy Quran that you should pay the mahr of your wives gladly, the mahr is not the price of a woman. This is a gift. Remember that mahr is obligatory and what is paid is obligatory. Do not ignore the fact that this is a religious duty for men and if the woman forgives, there is no question and they must pay so that the woman does not become a debtor.”

Abdul Ghafar Farooq, the spokesperson for the Ministry for the propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (MoPVPV) of the de-facto government, also says that the forces of this ministry have made the necessary recommendations regarding the payment of women’s mahr throughout Afghanistan. “It is a financial gift that is obligatory to be paid by the husband at the time of marriage. In this section, the Ministry has advised public in Kabul and in provinces that you do not have the right to seize women’s mahr and you must pay it to them.”

Women not being aware of their rights and men ignoring it due to the prevailing traditions in the society have caused women to be deprived of many fundamental and Shariah rights such as the right to mahr and the right to inheritance.