Surrogate Mother or Arranged Marriage? Surrogacy case reaches Supreme Court in Pakistan

on November 2, 2012

SurrogateIn an interesting example of cultural jurisprudence, a surrogacy agreement in Pakistan is coming into question because of the country’s Islamist traditions and laws…  not because surrogacy is deemed illegal, but because of the cultural acceptance of polygamy and financially arranged marriages.

In the case, US-based Pakistani, Farooq Siddiqui, is suing to recover his 7-year-old daughter from the woman who gave birth to her, Farzana Naheed. The case now has reached Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

In the case, Siddique claims that the woman who gave birth to the child was a surrogate, paid to become pregnant and deliver the child through IVF.  Siddique and his wife were unable to conceive, so they placed an ad in the local newspaper.  Naheed answered the ad, and agreed to have the baby for money.

However, under Muslim law, such an agreement can be construed as a contract of marriage.  In fact, after the child was born, Siddique and Naheed went their separate ways only after an official divorce decree was issued.

The Islamist culture recognizes not only polygamy, but also arranged marriages based on such arranged (and financial) agreements.  Naheed is now claiming that she was not a surrogate, but a legal wife of Siddique.  Siddique claims that, although technically married, the arrangement was a simple surrogacy arrangement (made by his first wife) and the woman has no rights to the child.

It is true that Naheed signed an agreement promising not to pursue any parental rights to the child.  So far, Pakistani courts have not supported that agreement.  A lower court concluded that Naheed was the real mother, and that she had been married to Siddiqui.  The court awarded her custody because, the judge said, the baby should not be deprived of a mother’s love and care.

Now the Pakistani Supreme Court is reviewing the case.


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