THE media and activists in Pakistan poured scorn last Friday (27) on a suggestion from an Islamic religious body that men should be allowed to “lightly beat” their wives, made in their draft of a women’s protection bill.
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) released a draft of the bill last Thursday (26), their response to progressive legislation giving women greater rights and protection in the province of Punjab.
Local media quoted the draft as saying: “A husband should be allowed to lightly beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires; turns down demand of intercourse without any religious excuse or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods.”
The proposal was met with a wave of mockery in the media and online.
The country’s biggest and most influential newspaper, the English- language daily Dawn, published a satirical article with a list of things people could beat other than their wives – including eggs, the bottom of ketchup bottles, and the Michael Jackson hit Beat It. The draft was also slammed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), which condemned its recommendations as “ridiculous” and called for the council of “zealots” to be disbanded.
Online in Pakistan, the bill was met with derision. “This body should be dissolved, preferably in acid,” wrote one Twitter user, as others expressed bafflement and anger.
In February, the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill was passed, which redefines “violence” to include “any offence committed against a woman” including domestic or emotional abuse, stalking or cybercrimes.
The bill also provides for a universal toll free help line for the women, and establishes district protection centres and residential shelters under a phased programme.
It also allows courts to order a GPS tracker installed to monitor a defendant’s movements.
The CII, formed in 1962 to advise parliament on the compatibility of laws with Sharia, has previously spoken out against the bill.