Protecting women’s protection law


WEB DESK: Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, in line with the position of his party, the JUI-F – which he represents in the National Assembly – has declared the Punjab Assembly’s women’s protection bill as against Islamic Sharia even before the Council took up the issue.

There is no need for women’s protection legislation, he said, because, according to him, they already have all the rights Islam grants them. Also, he told journalists that some clauses of the Punjab Assembly’s bill were against the Constitution of Pakistan, and suggested applying Article 6 (high treason) where a law is passed that, in his view, goes against the Sharia. The Maulana should know that only the Supreme Court of Pakistan has the prerogative to interpret the Constitution; the CII has no such right.

As for this claim that women already have the rights they need to have, he seems to be living in a world of his own, completely out of touch with the reality. For, each year thousands of cases are reported of various forms of violence against women, including severe beatings, rape, acid burning and vani (the custom under which young girls are forced into marriages to settle blood feuds between male members of rival families) and so-called honour killings.

It may be recalled that a while ago a pregnant woman was stoned to death by her male relatives in the Lahore High Court premises for contracting a marriage of choice – permissible in the religion – whilst the police and public looked on. No one tried to stop the brutality because it was deemed a family matter, and there existed no legal protection against ‘a family matter’. Every year, countless women are killed like this in different parts of the country.

This evil practice even has a name, karo-kari. Only Maulana Sherani can tell how such brutalities square with the teachings of Islam. The same day he was ranting against the protection bill, a young man killed two sisters in Sahiwal on the pretext of family honour. He felt encouraged to commit this heinous crime because four years earlier he had murdered his mother, on the same pretext, and walked free to commit the same crime again because using the Qisas and Diyat laws his father had forgiven him.

The government needs all the support it can get, to implement not only the protection bill but also to fulfil the promise the Prime Minister made – after watching Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar winning documentary on so-called honour killing – to make necessary changes in the law that allows a perpetrator – always a brother, father or an uncle – to be forgiven by another close relative. Maulana Sherani in particular has shown great interest in creating controversies rather than offering scholarly advice when sought.

A few months ago, he had a scuffle with a member over the Council meeting agenda arbitrarily set by him to determine whether or not to classify Ahmadis as apostates (murtid), impose jizia (tax on non-Muslim), and which of the sects are outside the pale of Islam. Opening up these settled issues for discussion amounted to playing with fire. Mercifully, he failed to advance his agenda. But once again he is bent on causing trouble by bringing into question the government’s efforts to end cruel anti-women practices. Considering that in Islam all Muslims are expected to acquire knowledge of Islamic teachings, members of Parliament can do without a CII that has little to offer by way of scholastic answers to the issues at hand.

Source: Business Recorder