Themorningbellbd.com desk, May 26: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) is deliberating on its proposed ‘model’ women’s protection bill, which allows a husband to ‘lightly’ beat his wife ‘if needed’ and prohibits mixing of the genders in schools, hospitals and offices.
The CII’s proposed bill claims women will have all the rights given to them under Shariah, prohibits interaction between na-mehrams at recreational spots and offices, and bans ‘dance, music, and sculptures created in the name of art’.
Earlier this year, the Punjab Assembly passed a women’s protection bill, which the CII and religious parties strongly rejected, declaring it ‘unIslamic’.
The proposed 163-point bill will be deliberated on Thursday and Friday. Copies of the bill have been sent to all provincial assemblies as the CII’s recommendations.
Salient points from the proposed bill address property, marriage, motherhood, crimes and violence against women, apostasy, and even venture into the instruments of state ‘acceptable’ for a woman to be involved in.
Farzana Bari, human rights activist and academic at Quaid-i-Azam University, termed the proposed bill unconstitutional.
“Allowing a husband to beat his wife, in any way, is against Pakistan’s Constitution and the international laws and treaties that Pakistan has signed and is bound by. This Council is a burden on the Pakistani taxpayer and bringing a bad name to Muslims throughout the world.”
Not allowing adult women to work and keeping them at home is to treat them like children or property, she added.
“This will take Pakistan further into ignorance.”
Key proposals in the bill
Women will have the right to own property
Women have the right to bequeath property
A husband may, when needed, lightly beat his wife
Three consecutive declarations of divorce will be punishable (punishment unspecified)
A guardian’s permission is not required for a woman who has reached majority to contract a nikah
A wife has the right to khula if she forfeits alimony
A wife may move the court in case of ‘excesses’ by husband
Contracting a marriage for Vani or dispute resolution is punishable (punishment unspecified)
Contracting a woman’s marriage to a Quran will be a crime carrying a ten-year sentence
Ban on the request and display of dowry
Women will be permitted to participate in politics
Women are not responsible for participation in combat missions
It is forbidden to kill a woman in war
Women may become judges
Women will not be permitted to receive foreign officials and state guests
Forcing any woman to convert carries a three-year prison sentence
A woman cannot be killed/executed for ‘leaving Islam’
A woman of sound mind is permitted to convert to Islam
Acid attacks and violent acts against women such as throwing acid on women should be thoroughly investigated
Ban on honour killing, Karo kari, and siyah kari
Work and education
Ban on co-education past the primary level
Co-education past the primary level may be permitted if hijab is made mandatory and free mixing between the genders is not allowed
A ban on women working in ‘vulgar’ advertisements
Female nurses should not attend to male patients
Women should not be forced into difficult, ‘labour-intensive’ work
Mothers must breastfeed for two years
Ban on advertisements baby formula/substitutes for breast milk
A woman cannot use contraception without the husband’s permission
An abortion after 120 days will be classified as murder