Is curbing domestic violence a conspiracy?

Published: April 15, 2012

The writer is a development consultant and a PhD student at the University of Melbourne syed.ali@tribune.com.pk

A landmark bill seeking to deter all forms of domestic violence against women has reached a serious deadlock following heavy resistance by opposition parties, especially the Jamiat UIema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N). The failure of the recent attempt to pass the bill in a joint session of the parliament has now sparked an unpleasant standoff between civil rights activists and JUI-F supporters.

The JUI-F asserts that under this law, a father will not be allowed to discipline his children and the institution of family in our society will be destroyed. The JUI-F has also lashed out against NGOs which they feel promote a culture which is taking our women away from Islamic values. Although the PML-N expressed disappointment concerning the lack of consensus-building needed to pass the bill, its stalwarts have hardly played a positive role by claiming that external forces have stakes in the passage of this bill, being championed by western-funded NGOs.

If one were to put aside the above emotive assertions –– which do grave injustice to effectively address the violent nature of crimes being committed against women within the household –– the specific objections made with reference to the bill itself are hardly convincing. Consider the opposition’s objection to clauses pertaining to deputing protection (police) officers for women or ensuring women protection through the National Commission on the Status of Women.

Protection from domestic violence is a fundamental human right. Why can’t the opponents of this bill turn their energy to demanding that women actually receive their share of inheritance property or exercise their right of consent to prevent forcible marriages, as envisioned by Islamic laws?

Another analyst has rightly noted that the language and insensitivity shown by those opposing this bill have made explicit a particular mindset which tends to trivialise, politicise and undermine all women rights issues.

The need for institutionalisation of measures to protect women and children from domestic violence is vital. Without relevant legislation, it will remain very difficult to prosecute such crimes as they will largely continue being dismissed by police as private affairs to be sorted out within families. This gives protection to perpetrators of violence and causes further victimisation of women. At least 943 Pakistani women and girls were murdered last year for allegedly defaming their family’s honour, according to collated figures released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. This excludes the multitude of other forms of violence which did not result in outright death and are often not even reported.

The proposed bill rightly acknowledged incidence of domestic violence. However, a mere law cannot change attitudes toward gender-based violence by itself if the political will for its proper implementation is not present. Even if the bill had been passed, it would need redoubled efforts to provide women easy access to complaint centres.

It will be a shame if the current opposition to the bill leads to diluting it so significantly that the required measures needed to effectively protect women cannot be put into place.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2012.

Reader Comments (11)

  • observer
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:00PM

    Is curbing domestic violence a conspiracy?

    You bet. It is a conspiracy to rob Muslims of Islam.

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  • Falcon
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:46PM

    I find the arguments raised by JUI-F stupid as if Islam does condone domestic violence. This is what gives bad name to Islam, when people try to get political attention in the name of Islam without having a clue what the religion truly stands for. And whoever is opposing them becomes an enemy of Islam. Talk about a bunch of egomaniacs!

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  • MarkH
    Apr 16, 2012 - 2:00AM

    It’s not like the Mullahs can keep women around by looks and personality.

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  • Apr 16, 2012 - 1:15PM

    Let us pass this bill into a law to enable Pakistan citizen get a bit closer to civilized societies by protecting the weaker sex. At the same time grant special permit to those mullahs who believe in wife bashing as their right.Recommend

  • Niamat
    Apr 16, 2012 - 8:12PM

    Firsh we need to read the proposed bill that was presented in the parliament. Without research we should not comment blindly, without knowing the fact. It is dilema of our society. We have information but not knowledge. First read that bill, there are some clearly unislamic clauses in that bill. I support the JUI-F stance on bill despite difference with JUI-F on many issues infact most of the issues. Just listening the so-called liberals and foreing-funded NGOs is not enouhg. Our own research will work for us.

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  • Free Thinker
    Apr 16, 2012 - 10:34PM

    @Niamat
    We would like to benefit from your research. Would you please elucidate the unislamic clauses in the bill which in your opinion do not deserve to be made part of law?

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  • gp65
    Apr 17, 2012 - 10:18AM

    @Niamat: ” First read that bill, there are some clearly unislamic clauses in that bill. “

    Since you HAVE read the bill, can you please spell out what are the unislamic clauses?

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  • canzeon
    Apr 17, 2012 - 10:34AM

    As a people we are in the habit of guarding all kinds of violence under the cloak of pseudo morality. It is high time we shed the hypocrisy, for mercy , pity , peace and love. It is alarming as to how the public opinion has been polarized. While our illiterate and erudite ones join hands alike to support draconian laws, even a touch of humanity or decency brings out the beast in them. Kudos to those standing for worthy causes in the face of unbridled hostility.

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  • raw is war
    Apr 17, 2012 - 4:37PM

    RAW conspiracy?

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  • curious
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:28AM

    I thought the PML-N supported the bill?

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  • sana
    May 15, 2012 - 4:18PM

    pml-n what a bunch of hypocrites. can’t believe progressive women like marvi memon and even maryam nawaz are supporting this crap. what a shame.

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