Mullahs on the warpath

Published March 21, 2016
—Illustration by Zahoor
—Illustration by Zahoor

Perhaps nothing unites our clerics more than women’s issues.

The Council of Islamic Ideology deliberates on burning issues like underage marriage (the younger the better), can a woman object to her husband’s second, third and fourth marriages (no), can DNA be used as primary evidence in rape cases (of course not...duh), the interpretation of veil for women, is co-education kosher (no, such an unhealthy practice for society), should female judges be obliged to wear niqab (naturally, yes).

Nowadays, the clerics have a new rallying cry.

Also read: When will Pakistan's clergy celebrate our women?

Mullahs — who seal their lips and eyes when women are raped, assaulted, burnt, murdered, humiliated, thrown out of houses, used as barter or traded to compensate for "insults" to ghairatmand (so-called honourable) men — are finally up in arms.

What has got their goat this time?

The Punjab Assembly has taken the unforgivable step of passing the Women's Protection Act, which seeks to give legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence.

How ridiculous is that, shout the clerics. This is "an un-Islamic law!" they thunder from their pulpits.

Examine: Don't celebrate the Punjab women's violence bill just yet

Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his coterie are so incensed that they are racing to hold rallies to protest such a draconian move which will grant protection to women from their oppressors.

How can this happen in Pakistan, they scream.

Yes, they are the very same people who have decided that they are the stakeholders of a country whose very existence they not only campaigned against and denounced but whose founder they termed "Kafir-e-Azam."

Now they have positioned themselves as the standard bearers of Pakistan and its ideology. In fact, they are corrupting its ideology to suit their ends.

And the supine, pathetic so-called silent majority has let them.

Examine: It took my mother 30 years to walk out of an abusive marriage and an 'honest' infidelity

In Punjab, violence is a way of life in many homes.

Recently, I met a woman from the province who worked as a maid and was widowed at an early age and had struggled to raise her kids.

One day when I said, "How sad that your husband died so young…" she interrupted me with a wave of her hand.

"Baji, no, no, I am not sorry. He used to hit me so much. At least now no one can raise a hand to me. It's difficult yes, but now, I live life on my own terms."

See: Abuse and hush money — Pakistan's domestic workers caught in a dangerous cycle of violence

Surprised that this spirited tall woman had once been battered, I asked: "But why did you take it? Why did you not tell him to stop?”

“Because Baji, that is the way our men are, They beat us and we get beaten. That is our life."

And this is exactly the kind of mindset the mullahs in Pakistan want to perpetuate: powerless women getting abused endlessly and accepting it as their due.

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