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Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Maulana Sherani addressing a press conference at the council office. ─ Online
Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Maulana Sherani addressing a press conference at the council office. ─ Online

ISLAMABAD: 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 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government sent a similar bill to the Council for review, which it rejected on the basis of being ‘unIslamic’, and announced it will prepare a ‘model’ bill in response.

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

Property
  • Women will have the right to own property
  • Women have the right to bequeath property
Marriage
  • 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 maturity 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
State
  • 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
Religion
  • 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
Crime
  • 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
Motherhood
  • 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