Punjab Assembly has unanimously passed a legislation known as The Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016 which aims at discouraging and preventing domestic violence against women and to provide the affected women a legal avenue to get their grievanced addressed. The Islamic Ideology Council has already declared un-Islamic and it has also been challenged in The Shariat court. Maulana Fazlur Rahman also holds the same views and has announced to launch a campaign to protect the rights of men. Consequently an intense debate is raging in the media on the subject.
Honestly speaking it is hard to deny that violence against women exists at all levels of the society and has diverse forms. It ranges from abusive language, coercion in marriage, wife-beating, torture, marital rape, custodial violence, honour killing, burning, acid throwing, incest , rape, gang rape, public stripping, trafficking, forced prostitution and sexual harassment. Many forms that exist are so entrenched in our culture that they are ignored, condoned or even found acceptable by large sections of our society. For example social attitudes that the wife is a property of the husband; that whatever happens in a family is a private, internal family matter; that behavior meted out to the wife was necessary as corrective measures. It all leads to the condoning of acts of violence and abuse towards women in their roles as wives.
Our is a society dominated by male chauvinism. The foregoing practices are immoral, against human dignity as well as illegal. Domestic violence is a legal offence in almost all the countries of the world. Almost all the religions abhor this kind of behavior or social environment. In Sura Al-Nisa God commands men to treat their women fairly. Treating them fairly implies a violence free domestic environment. Quran does not allow men to commit the foregoing crimes and resort to the detestable social practice of violence against women.
When Maulana talks about protecting the rights of men, he is actually trying to endorse the continuation of the archaic and abhorrent social practices that deny women their human and religious rights. He is advocating pre-dominance of male chauvinism which he thinks as a right of the men. Little does he realise that Pakistan is member of the comity of nations and it also has international obligations to address these issues properly and effectively. Pakistan is an Islamic country and Islam being a complete code of life emphasising protection of human dignity and human rights, it should actually have been in the forefront at the global level to trigger the movement for violence against women which is wrong from all perspective including the religious aspect.
Quaid — Azam wanted Pakistan to be a democratic entity deriving inspiration from lofty principles of Islam but not as a theocracy. He epitomised his vision in a broadcast talk on Pakistan to the people of United States in February 1948 in these words “The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed. I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type embodying the essential principles of Islam. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of men, justice and fair play to everybody. In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state, to be ruled by priests with divine mission. We have many non-Muslims, Hindus, Christian and Parsis but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.
It was in the backdrop of this detestable phenomenon that this legal framework has been adopted to check violence against women. The Act aims at protecting women against violence of any kind including, bodily harm, sexual violence, psychological abuse, economic abuse, stalking or a cybercrime. Actually the legislation is designed to purge the society of the inhuman practices and attitudes that have an overall debilitating impact on the development of the society. Those who are opposing this Act do not need to take to the streets to create a law and order situation. There are legal and other avenues available to challenge it or initiate a debate on the issue in the federal parliament. The better option would be to seek Supreme Court ruling on the issue.