Religious parties stall women protection bills again

Updated 12 Apr 2016

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Religious parties again managed to defer two bills meant to stop honour killings and sexual abuse in the country.─ Photo: na.gov.pk
Religious parties again managed to defer two bills meant to stop honour killings and sexual abuse in the country.─ Photo: na.gov.pk

ISLAMABAD: If Monday’s joint sitting of the parliament was anything to go by, political parties across the board lack the spine to face conservative forces who again managed to defer two bills meant to stop honour killings and sexual abuse in the country.

Although women parliamentarians from the PPP, PTI and PML-N tried their best to push the legislation through the house, they were left to face humiliation in the hands of a JUI-F lawmaker. Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) was the other party which opposed the passage of the bills and sought their vetting by the Council of Islamic Ideology.

Related: Religious parties reject women protection bill

The two bills have been deferred until the next sitting of the parliament, and sent back to a committee for further discussion.

It was Dr Shireen Mazari of the PTI, who urged the National Assembly speaker not to defer the bills for long because in that case the heinous crimes of honour killings and rape would continue to destroy the lives of women in the country.

While she was seeking her turn to speak on the issue, Maulana Ameer Zaman of the JUI-F also raised his hand to take on the floor. Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in a lighter tone quipped: “I don’t give time to lawmakers on the basis of their weight,” in reference to the heavy build of Maulana Zaman and allowed Dr Mazari to take the microphone.

Related: Demo in favour of women’s act

In a quick reaction, however, Maulana Zaman said: “If not on the basis of weight, why not on the basis of height,” making an obvious allusion to Dr Mazari. It was then that the entire women parliamentarians, except those belonging to the JUI-F and JI, stood up and demanded a formal apology from the JUI-F leader.

“Maafi, Maafi, Maafi,” they all chanted in unison but to no avail. As a result, the opposition, including women from the treasury, staged a token walkout against what they said the derogatory remarks of the JUI-F lawmaker.

Naeema Kishwar Khan of the JUI-F argued that his fellow party lawmaker had made the comment in a lighter vein. “I offer my apologies on behalf my party lawmaker.”

Related: Women protection law wins acclaim

While the women parliamentarians were raising slogans against the JUI-F MNA, the speaker announced that Maulana sahib had taken his words back.

A mediaperson in the press gallery said the speaker was responsible for triggering the controversy by first making a joke over the weight of Maulana Zaman.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2016