LAHORE: The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) on Monday rejected the Council of Islamic Ideology’s (CII) proposed ‘model’ bill for the protection of women.
In a press statement, the commission said that the CII’s proposal contravened fundamental rights available to women in the Constitution. “It violates international laws and treaties Pakistan has signed and is bound by. In light of Article 25 of the Constitution that upholds equality of all citizens before the law, the proposed bill adds no value to the rights of women,” the statement said.
The CII bill contains 163 recommendations addressing issues like property, marriage, motherhood, crimes and violence against women. “On one hand, it advises allowing men to lightly beat their wives and banning co-education past the primary level. On the other, it makes a desperate attempt to appeal to the women of Pakistan by claiming to uphold their rights. It promises that women will be allowed to enter into a contract of marriage without a guardian’s permission and to seek khula; it bans dowry and vani among others. It is worth noting that the rights that the CII pretends to grant women under women’s protection bill are already enshrined in the laws Pakistan is constitutionally bound to adhere to,” the statement said.
The PCSW said that all citizens and government bodies should reject the recommendations as unconstitutional and redundant. “The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to which Pakistan is a signatory, states that full and complete development of a country requires the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields,” the statement said.
The commission said that the recommendations undermined Pakistan’s position in world.
“The CII’s draft reduces the rigorous efforts made by the government to protect the rights of women to nothing. It treats women as minors and properties of men by prescribing that women need to be instructed in all matters of life. It takes away women’s fundamental freedoms and impinges on their bodily rights. It dispenses this advice without substantiating its claims. Women today, not just in Pakistan but all over the world excel in every walk of life. From accomplishing the most physically challenging of tasks to running governments and big corporations, there is nothing that women have not been able to accomplish. Pakistan is among one of the nations in the world that have had a female head of government. The CII appears to have forgotten the roles played by eminent women such as Fatima Jinnah and Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan. CII’s position will be a huge step back from the progress that has been made to date,” the statement said.
The statement said that the PCSW had made making efforts for women’s empowerment and elimination of gender-based discrimination. “It stands by its commitment to ensure the full participation of women in all spheres of national life as guaranteed by Article 34 of the Constitution of Pakistan,” the statement said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2016.