Institutional Reform and De Facto Women's Rights in Punjab, Pakistan
Women’s rights to make life choices such as whether and when to marry and divorce are intrinsically important. Yet in many contexts, the law on the books is substantially more progressive than the de facto practice of the law. Pakistan is a good example: the government officials who register marriages often follow their own judgment rather than comply strictly with the law. Many are not even aware of the laws on the books. To address this, the government of Punjab is conducting the first ever mandatory training of marriage registrars in the province to inform them on women’s rights in marriage, including child marriage and women’s right to initiate divorce, and of the legal consequences to registrars for non-compliance. If the study identifies an effect of the training on legal practices, it will prepare the ground for study of the impacts on women and their families through a household survey.