A Shi’ah brother married a Sunni sister without anyone’s knowledge. If her Pakistani parents found out, they would kill her. Now, having ‘used her’, this brother wants to divorce and desert her. Her parents, who will soon force her to marry, will then discover that she is no longer a virgin. What should she do?

1. Both ought to know that to marry, they require the consent of the woman’s father. Without this, marriage is invalid. According to Shi’ah jurisprudence, there are three conditions in which a woman need not have her father’s consent:
• if she is mature, and capable of living independently;
• if, despite the suitability of her husband-to-be in terms of his religion and status, her father misuses his authority and objects to their marriage for no sound reason;
• if she is no longer a virgin.

According to Hanafi jurisprudence when a woman is 20 years old she is accepted to be mature and able to make her own decisions regarding marriage.

2. Is this lady a wife or a mistress? If she is a wife then the term, ‘being used’ makes no sense. However, if she is a ‘mistress’, ‘lover’ or however you describe it, why did she accept to conduct such a dishonourable relationship with any man? For peace of mind she is advised to be more serious about her life and future. She could, and perhaps should have, insisted on a proper public marriage.

3. If, when she marries/remarries, she believes her life to be in danger, she must seek sanctuary until it is safe for her to return. There are some surgeons who offer to repair the hymen; however, this option is only valid if it is undertaken in order to protect her life.