LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday assailed the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) recommendations calling for violence against women, among other regressive, illegal or redundant advice contained in a “model” law purportedly designed to protect women’s rights.
“As much as the HRCP wanted not to dignify with any comment the ridiculous CII recommendations regarding ‘light beating’ of women, the commission thinks it is imperative that every right-respecting person must condemn such counsel unreservedly. The irony of calling the measures women protection should not be lost on anyone,” the HRCP said in a statement.
The commission said that in an apparent attempt to balance things, the “model” draft pronounced that women should not be killed in the name of honour. The HRCP said it “allowed” women a say in who they married, own property and bequeath the same to others. The commission said it also “permitted” them to participate in politics. “These provisions have already, and correctly, been pointed out as unnecessary, because they are covered by criminal law and constitutionally acknowledged human rights provisions for decades. The women in Pakistan should thank their stars that they did not have to look towards the CII for getting these rights. There are other provisions in the draft that are no less preposterous,” The HRCP said.
The commission said it was difficult to fathom why anyone in his right mind would think that any further encouragement or justification was needed to invite violence upon women. “Another thing people have long wondered about is why women and young girls are the main focus of CII pronouncements. Surely there must be other pressing issues in the country that require its attention,” the HRCP said. The commission said it would like to know why the CII was obsessed with women, its attempts to ensure women remained subservient and keep them away from attaining parity in society had not been questioned to date.
“We hope and expect that things will be different this time and the draft bill will be condemned unreservedly by all segments of society, especially by the government, and that those choosing to stay silent or to support the regressive recommendations would be judged for their stance,” the commission said. The HRCP said it appeared that the “model” draft was payback for the women protection bill adopted by the Punjab Assembly. The “advice” exposes the mindset of the zealots occupying the CII, who should be removed from their posts immediately, the commission said. “In fact, the body itself is redundant in the presence of adequate constitutional provisions that rule out the enactment of laws contrary to Islam. It is time it was disbanded,” the HRCP said.
The Awami Workers’ Party on Friday rejected the recommendations presented by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).
“The propositions put forth by the CII epitomise violent patriarchy and a conservative morality that aims to subjugate women and perpetuate their oppression. The CII, through its propositions, encourages violence against women by condoning domestic abuse. It discounts the heinous nature of domestic violence which leaves women incarcerated in their own homes, held captive by violent men who happen to be their loved ones,” the AWP said in a statement.
Calling the CII “sexist” and “bigoted”, the AWP said it had gone beyond perpetuating domestic abuse and encouraged medical abuse of women by denying them access to contraception without the permission of their husbands. “Moreover, the council’s propositions regarding forcing mothers to breastfeed and banning advertisements for substitutes for breast milk depict its alarming desire to regulate women’s bodies and reproductive choices. It is ironic how the CII’s criticism of government intervention to curb domestic abuse was termed unnecessary involvement in the private sphere of the home – while these regulations of women’s bodies and choices are not seen by them in the same light,” the party said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2016.