There are Muslim men fighting for the right to kill their wives
Groups of hard-line, right-wing Islamic extremists across Pakistan have banded together in protest to reclaim the right to abuse and kill their wives and daughters.
The country has finally taken a progressive step forward on gender equality, but some men still believe the mistreatment of women is their divine, God-given right.
The controversy began when the Pakistani government introduced the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill, which effectively criminalizes violence against women in Punjab — the country’s most populous region.
Before the law was officially enacted on March 1, diehard extremists attempted to block the legislation, saying it would “destroy the family system in Pakistan” and “add to the miseries of women.”
The bill was passed unanimously by the Punjab Assembly, and opponents have since warned of ongoing protests if it is not repealed.
What is the bill?
It provides for a network of shelters or safe houses where women who have fled violence can seek counseling and financial and medical aid.
It also conceives a universal, toll-free, 24/7 telephone number women can call in order to report abuse.
In special circumstances, offenders may be monitored by wearing a bracelet with a GPS monitor, and will be restricted from making gun purchases.
The bill was drawn up in 2015 by the political party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It was a surprise to many in the population, as the party has gained a reputation for pandering to right-wing religious groups.
In recent months, however, Sharif has publicly condemned violence against women and honor killings, and vowed to take action.
In February, he told The Guardian: “This is totally against Islam and anyone who does this must be punished and punished very severely.”
Why is the bill important?
Violence against women is an endemic social issue in Pakistan. Wives and daughters are often still treated as domestic property.
Honor killings, acid attacks, bride burnings, child marriages, and sexual and domestic abuse are commonplace, yet these crimes are grossly under-reported.
The United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index puts Pakistan 147th in a list of 188 countries.
A 2014 report by the Aurat (Woman) Foundation, a women’s rights group based in Islamabad, said that every single day of the year, six women
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