The Punjab province of Pakistan was planning to introduce a bill that would have actually changed the face of the country. Yet who in the hell can fight with the fundamentalist leaders of Pakistan!
So, the Protection of Women against Violence Act (PPWA) 2015 bill was called un-Islamic and rejected by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).
The CII has constitutional validity and is the supreme advisory body to the Pakistani parliament with matters concerning religion. Though their recommendation is not binding, it has weight in the Islamic Republic where the law of the Sharia rules.
What was the PPWA bill about?
Passed in the Punjab assembly the bill aimed at granting legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence. It suggested the creation of a toll-free abuse reporting hot line and the establishment of women’s shelters.
Now look at what a proposed CII bill regarding ‘women protection’ contains:
- A husband should ‘lightly’ beat their wives for disobedience and for refusing to wear the Hijab.
- Beating is acceptable for refusal to bath after intercourse and menstruation.
- ‘Light’ beatings recommended for wives who refuse sex with their husbands without a valid religious excuse.
- If women speak loud enough to be heard by strangers.
- ‘Light’ beating if women donate money without the consent of their spouses.
- Women cannot participate in military combat.
- Female nurses cannot treat male patients.
- Female models should not appear in advertisements.
- Women should not study in co-eds after primary schooling.
- Women should not welcome ‘foreign’ delegations.
- Women must breastfeed their children for at least two years. (advertisements encouraging substitute milk to be banned.)
Basically, the CII’s way of protecting women is to put them inside homes. If approved, the bill will become the law in Pakistan.
In her bitterly critical opinion piece, Saima Baig – a Karachi-based environmental economist – satirically writes that “basically, they want women to have all the rights that they have in Saudi Arabia and we all know how well that is going”.
She points out that the Sharia – on which the CII prepared its bill – “does not provide women with the rights they should demand in this day and age”.