Some recent pronouncements of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) have invited angry reaction from members of parliament, civil society and women rights groups. They describe as regressive and anti-women the CII chief’s suggestion that no minimum age can be fixed for the marriage of girls. The council’s decree against DNA testing for rape cases has also not gone down well with a large section of the population and neither has the proclamation that there is no need for the wife’s consent for a second marriage.
These tricky issues were bound to touch off a firestorm of protest. Unsurprisingly, the Sindh Assembly saw a rare banding together of friends and foes on March 31 in their opposition to the council’s edicts. The lawmakers in the provincial assembly said the CII recommendations revealed a complete indifference and insensitivity towards women, while one PML-N MPA went an extra mile by demanding that the council be disbanded altogether. PML-F MPA Mahtab Akbar Rashdi moved a resolution which, among other things, said the CII is creating divisions and confusion in the minds of people. In her speech, she wondered aloud that if 18 years is the mandatory age for ID cards and driving licences then why cannot the same age be fixed for marriage? She was emphatic in her declaration that our society cannot tolerate child marriage in this modern world.
This newspaper supports this move and feels that we do not need more groups promoting retrogressive ideas and taking away the few freedoms women have. We already have a plethora of issues that need coming to grips with on an urgent basis, and certainly we can ill-afford to add more to the list. We need to focus more on improving the lot of women who are marginalised in many parts of the country rather than allowing ourselves to be sucked into a debate that is fraught with controversies. The condition of womenfolk is deplorable in our society and improving their condition should — first and foremost — take our time and effort.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2014.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ