First things first: The uproar over allowing Pakistani men to "lightly" beat their wives for disciplinary purposes isn't a law. It's a draft proposal forwarded by a bunch of fundamental clerics sitting together, brainstorming and trying to lead wayward Muslims on the righteous path and, yes, eventually heaven.
So the council (comprising 20 religious scholars who advise the parliament on religious matters) recommended that husbands should be able to beat their wives, as long as they do it “lightly.”
Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) chairman Muhammad Kahn Sherani says, "If you want her to mend her ways, you should first advise her … If she refuses, stop talking to her … stop sharing a bed with her, and if things do not change, get a bit strict."
He went on to describe “strict” as “(hitting) her with light things like handkerchief, a hat or a turban, but do not hit her on the face or private parts.”
Needless to say it didn’t sit well with the people. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement: “As much as the HRCP wanted not to dignify with any comment the ridiculous CII recommendations regarding ‘light beating’ of women, the commission thinks it is imperative that every right-respecting person must condemn such counsel unreservedly. The irony of calling the measures women protection should not be lost on anyone.”
The people of Pakistan, feeling the same, didn’t show much restrain in opposing the proposal. Social media flooded with reactions to the draft.
Thank You CII, i would love to beat my wife a little pic.twitter.com/9tSXC9dJ72— Osama. (@ashaqeens) May 27, 2016
Mullah Sherani should launch a sharia compliant wife beating stick in the market to standardize the experience— faraz (@faraz_lhr) May 27, 2016
If woman is the one to earn & maintainer of the man & spends wealth from her property/earnings. Will she be allowed to beat the husband?— sabirnazar (@sabirnazar1) May 29, 2016
One of Pakistan’s leading dailies, The Dawn, perhaps dealt with it the best: “The bill left us scratching our heads. How, we wondered, could 'lightly beating' your wife be considered a good thing? Several hours and a dozen headaches later we gave up trying to mind meld with the CII.
"Instead, to anyone who might be compelled to 'lightly beat' a woman, we offer alternatives. Because wife beating is bad. It is a crime, in fact. Here, have a go at this instead.”
And then they went on to tell what can be some of the things that can be lightly beaten instead of a wife.
Here are some examples:
The end of a ketchup bottle:
Others also came up with familiar suggestions and there was no dearth of ideas as to things a husband can use to "lightly beat" wives, including feathers, petals and even money (why not?).
Amazingly, the wife beating proposal came in response to the Protection of Women Against Violence Act — a bill proposed by the provincial government of Punjab.
The religious bodies dubbed the law contrary to Islam and came up with their own version. That apart from the wife-beating part also had some of the following pointers:
- A ban on co-education after primary school
- Ban on women from taking part in military combat
- Ban on women welcoming foreign delegations, interacting with males and making recreational visits with men who are not their legal guardians
- Female nurses should not be allowed to take care of male patients
- Women should be banned from working in advertisements
- An abortion after 120 days of conceiving should be declared "murder"
It would be unfair, however, to say that all propositions in the draft were bordering on ridiculousness.
- It allows a woman to join politics
- A woman can marry without permission of parents
- Anyone who tries to force women to marry with the Holy Quran or facilitate this should be awarded 10-year imprisonment
- If any non-Muslim woman is forced to convert, then the oppressor will be awarded three-year imprisonment and the woman will not be murdered if she reverts to her previous faith
The proposal most likely will be forgotten soon enough or get drowned in the day to day workings of a state beseeched by corruption, forced conversions and blasphemy cases.
It wouldn’t be something new as well. Just recently a ban was imposed (and then duly lifted) on airing advertisements for contraceptive products on electronic media in the country.
But incidents like these do concern people who fear the country is on the brink of radicalization.