Analysis: I had never seen right-wingers laugh so hard

Published: April 6, 2012
Fazlur Rehman took floor twice, not knowing what exactly bill entailed, bad-mouthed 'westernized women'.

Fazlur Rehman took floor twice, not knowing what exactly bill entailed, bad-mouthed 'westernized women'.

Today I walked out of the parliament with a feeling of humiliation. The strong sense that many simply played politics with women’s pain made me feel nauseated. This domestic violence bill had been proclaimed by the president and prime mister as their priority.

The bill that was proposed by Yasmeen Rehman and others in 2008 was unanimously passed by the national assembly in 2009.  Unfortunately, it was rejected in the Senate, and, finally, after two years, was presented again in the joint session of the Senate and the Assembly on Thursday.

The supporters of the bill, including Yasmeen Rehman, Attiya Inayatulla, Azra Peechoho, made changes in the text to suit every party. The discussions and debate went on, compromises made and text diluted. But the text has never been an issue really.

The main issue seems to be, as one parliamentarian had said earlier, “Now we can’t even slap our wives any more! What kind of system do you want?”  That seems to be the main problem, which usually takes the form of saying, “We disagree with the text”.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman took the floor twice, not knowing what exactly the bill entailed and bad-mouthed “westernized women”. Mehtab Abbassi played a negative role in instigating the Maulana, who then wanted to send the bill to the Council of Islamic Ideology. Expressing his support, Senator Raza Rabbani stood up and quoted several rules to conclude that the joint session cannot send a bill to the CII.

Saad Rafique after taking the floor twice and yelling at the speaker, came over to the Maulanas and they all had a laugh sitting in the front rows. I had never seen Maulanas laugh so hard. They were falling off their chairs. I wondered if they even knew the meaning of domestic violence, if they have ever seen a face of a woman covered with bruises, or red marks of sticks on a woman’s back, or broken limbs of a crying sister. I wondered if they are even capable of ever feeling the pain of what it is like to be hurt or sexually molested by someone with whom you have to live every day not knowing when he will turn into a monster.

A week ago this bill came on the agenda after a very long wait and much preparation, but Khursheed Shah intervened and without letting any woman speak said we need five days to iron out some issues with the text and had the speaker defer it. Obviously this was not a priority for any party so every day we tried to know who has a problem and why the bill was deferred. No one approached the mover and yesterday again, Khursheed Shah declared that people have issues and therefore a few more days are needed. After seven and a half years, it still needed a few more days.

The bill has been deferred again until Monday. I felt the top leadership might not be aware of how it gets played out at this level. I know the commitment of the top leadership of the PPP, ANP and MQM. I also know that Shahbaz Sharif who passed an amazing package for women on the March 8 could not have tolerated this humiliation of women in the joint house, but it happened. They did not let the women parliamentarians speak. I would like the women of Pakistan to know this: Tomorrow is another day!

The writer is a social scientist with a PhD from the University of Minnesota and the author of “Taboo! The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2012.


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Reader Comments (17)

  • Asif Khan
    Apr 6, 2012 - 11:04AM

    this is normal male behaviour in our society.Beating up your wives is taken as a god given right by pakistani men.there’s no concept of domestic violence or marital rape in our people.
    The mentality prevailing is that it is a husband’s right to torture or rape his wife.Our public likes living as cavemen did and doesn’t allow anyone to interfere in their right to abuse their wives.


  • nirmal maunder
    Apr 6, 2012 - 12:49PM

    The right to beat & is granted to men by scriptures & Alla.How can they,the paliamentarians take it away.


  • MUhammad Faisal Yaqub
    Apr 6, 2012 - 5:30PM

    @nirmal maunder: Allah & Scriptures have nt given dis right to man as people perceive and misquote it out of context. Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) Himself in His entire life never touched His Wives harshly even when One of His Wife was accused.


  • Shah
    Apr 6, 2012 - 8:45PM

    Shame on right wingers….!


  • Copper
    Apr 6, 2012 - 9:34PM

    Moulana surely doesn’t represent right winger. Do you think right wingers want to slap their wives? Moulana has a history of playing politics in the name of Islam,and he will use this too for his vested interest.


  • huees
    Apr 6, 2012 - 11:09PM

    i don’t know what to make of it. Is it a sad situation or just plan outrageous? I don’t know what goes into the mind of a person who loses the sense of fundamentals of human dignity.


  • rukhsana rehman
    Apr 7, 2012 - 1:02AM

    we, Pakistani women believe in constant hardwork and struggle.We are sure of our success,The message of hope and determination is evident from the tone of the article and speaks volumes of about Fouzia Saeed’s personal commitment and courage.


  • Falcon
    Apr 7, 2012 - 1:51AM

    Fouzia – Certainly agree with you. Don’t lose hope. We have to continue the fight. Lastly, I would like to highlight that most of the right wingers in Pakistan are doing politics in religion’s name and are themselves least aware of the religion themselves. If I understand correctly, Islam does not allow aggression against any human being including women.


  • Huma
    Apr 7, 2012 - 1:55AM

    maybe the maulana should be subjected to domestic violence as well, and then he might understand the value of the bill.


  • semra jalil
    Apr 7, 2012 - 2:53AM

    Tribune desperately needs to fix their editing department-‘mister’ instead of ‘minister’?


  • Azim
    Apr 7, 2012 - 3:07AM

    How does it feels when you see your father slapping or hurting your mothers physically ? I guess these so-called ‘Thekehdaars of Islam’ must have enjoyed that scene in their childhood very much the same way they enjoy when they hit or abuse their women today. How many crimes will we commit in the name of Islam and Allah. Islam is a tolerant, non-violent religion, a religion that perches equality and rights to all.

    All of our learned (thus moderate) clerks have kept quite, and by doing so they have failed to protect the real Islam. I believe Pakistan is a country where many Muslims but little Islam , we are becoming an extremist estate just like SA etc.

    I may be not a perfect musulman, but what I know for sure is that a perfect musalman is also a great human being, and what greatness will come in hitting a women – if it comes to that best is to leave the women.

    Shame of Mullahs, and Shame on all those who believe in violence against women! Muslims or non-Muslim!

    Stop this hypocracy now – please. Enough is enough! We don’t respect anyone (women, other religions, other cultures, other civilization, other nations) but we want to be respected – we are really quite a screwed up civilization!


  • abdullah
    Apr 7, 2012 - 4:42AM

    madam fouzia in 70s the surkhas want to impose their madar pidar things on the name of liberalism but we the real people of federation of pakistan the rural tribal people stoped your advance now you are backed by u s instead of u s s r again we traditional tribal rural people will stop you .we cant leave balochi tradition we follows sinse our days in halb our women should follow our balochki not your Yankee culture as most of your life has been spent out side pakistan


  • abdullah
    Apr 7, 2012 - 4:58AM

    miss faozia its not 70s


  • M. U. A,
    Apr 7, 2012 - 5:46AM

    pardon my language but this is all just bull sh**… I mean what would come of this bill nothing. Women would continue to be slapped in homes, beaten, molested, raped etc. etc. Yes I believe that there needs to be some legal protection for the women, but until and unless women themselves remain inherently week, there is no legal protection, that would protect them.

    Educate your daughters so that they can be independent, educate your daughters so that they can have a career of their own, bring them up in such a fashion that they are not slaves to men-be it their fathers or their husbands.

    Marriage is a contract for living together on EQUAL terms. Somebody please explain these maulvis that want the chadar and chardewari for the women to first ostracize the wives of the prophet (nauzibiAllah) if they say anything against women. Hazrat Khadija had her own business and provided financial stability to the prophet. Hazrat Ayesha led her army in a war, and was a leader in her own, and so was each and every other female relative of the prophet and the sahabas.

    The longer Pakistan remains in this psuedo arab thinking of “women are my property” the worst and worst its going to get.

    (note: I dont mean to offend anyone, and was merely giving some references when talking about prophet’s wife.)


  • paklord
    Apr 7, 2012 - 10:42AM

    Allah & Scriptures have nt given dis right to man as people perceive and misquote it out of context.

    Please Follow the Link


  • Komal
    Apr 8, 2012 - 12:55AM

    Sometimes Pakistan just seems like a country under a shadow. If people cannot even get behind the simple idea that it is wrong for men to beat their wives, then we have a LONG way to go.


  • Arif Ali Khan
    Apr 8, 2012 - 3:28AM

    Fouzia Saeed keep striving. I am glad to read this article. Be sure that by far the majority of Pakistanis are civilized people and wish to make progress. They will support you and all will help women fight against violence. These mullahs may be able to delay things but in the end decency will prevail and you will get justice. What shame they bring to our faith through such terrible behavior. Shame on all of them! Please stay the course.Recommend

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