ISLAMABAD: The prime minister has promised to address the reservations of religious parties on a women protection law recently promulgated by the Punjab government, said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of his eponymous faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, on Monday.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif heard our reservations against the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016. He promised to amend the law so that it doesn’t contravene the teachings of the holy Quran and Sunnah,” Maulana Fazl said after a meeting with the prime minister at his Raiwind residence. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was also present in the meeting.
The law criminalises “any offence committed against a woman, including domestic violence, emotional, psychological and verbal abuse, economic abuse, and stalking or a cybercrime”. It also calls for setting up a toll-free abuse reporting hot-line, and establishment of women’s shelters.
Maulana Fazl said the prime minister has promised to constitute a committee that would look into the reservations of the religious parties, including that of JUI-F’s. Rights crusaders have welcomed the women protection law, but religious groups call it an ‘invasion on the privacy of the house’.
The JUI-F chief said all religious parties would announce their future strategy after a meeting at the Jamaat-e-Islami headquarters in Mansoora, Lahore. “We never asked the Punjab government to withdraw the bill, we only asked for our reservations on certain clauses to be addressed,” he said.
Maulana Fazl said the Punjab government was showing flexibility, which was a positive development. “Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has assured that a committee will be formed under Law Minister Rana Sanaullah to address the reservations of Ulema on the women protection law,” he added.
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), the top constitutional body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam, has already declared Punjab’s women protection law ‘un-Islamic’.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2016.