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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pakistan - Islamist Religious parties warn of 1977-like riots if Women protection law stays.

Pakistan - Islamist Religious parties warn of 1977-like riots if Women protection law stays. (ExpressTribune).

Religious parties warned the government on Tuesday of a nationwide protest movement if the controversial women’s protection act of Punjab was not withdrawn by March 27.

Describing the Protection of Women Against Violence Act as ‘un-Islamic’, the religious groups convened another meeting on April 2 in Islamabad to decide their future course of action.

Representatives of more than 35 religious parties huddled in Mansoora, Lahore, for an All-Pakistan Ulema Conference organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami and unanimously condemned the women’s protection law.

They called upon the government to re-introduce the law, accommodating the recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology, which advises parliament on the compatibility of laws with Islam. It has already declared the act un-Islamic. The government has formed a consultation committee to mull over possible amendments.

The Protection of Women against Violence Act passed last month gives legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence. It recommends creating a toll-free abuse reporting  hotline, shelters for women and district-level panels to investigate reports of abuse. It also allows using GPS bracelets to keep track of offenders.

A joint declaration after Tuesday’s conference said statements given by government officials on the women’s protection law and Mumtaz Qadri’s hanging were against the Sharia, the ideology of Pakistan and its Constitution.

Pakistan was founded on the principles of Islam and the Objectives Resolution, it said, adding that all religious parties would thwart all efforts to make Pakistan a liberal or secular state.

The resolution claimed the law would increase the divorce rate in society and result in damaging the traditional family structure. It also said that the law was introduced in an effort to Westernise the country.

The leaders called for the proper implementation of the existing laws on violence against women instead of introducing un-Islamic laws.

Of the 76 women lawmakers of the Punjab Assembly, only 44 were present at the time of legislation. PTI’s Shunila Ruth was one of them. “I fail to understand the hue and cry. There is a perception that this law has somehow challenged the masculinity of men in our society,” she said.

Punjab Assembly’s Standing Committee on Gender Mainstreaming Chairperson Raheela Khadim believes not just the law but the women supporting it also were facing criticism. “Women are usually snubbed in the society and this attitude is present even in the upper echelons of the society. An example would be the criticism being faced publicly by women supporting the law.”

One of the many women behind the law, Azma Bukhari says despite the growing opposition, the law is in no danger. “There are so many contradictions in the concerns raised. There is no answer over which clause of the law is un-Islamic,” said the PML-N lawmaker, also the chairperson of the standing committee on Law and parliamentary affairs. Hmmm........Welcome to Anno Domini 660. Read the full story here.

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