Women Protection Bill: What’s all the fuss about?

Mualana Fazal Ur Rehman
Mualana Fazal Ur Rehman is leading the opposition on Punjab's Women Protection Bill.

I have been reading and hearing for weeks about the Punjab Women Protection Bill 2016. I must say it is an absolute waste of time to contemplate about it for even a day. However, we have been giving our two cents for weeks, then eventually we will move on to months and may God not show us the time when we are fighting over it for years.

What’s the fuss? Let’s lock it and move on! What are we scared of?

In many conservative and non-conservative households not only in Pakistan but the world over women are cornered, abused and treated as lesser to men. Some justify it as a cultural norm, and many connect it to the religion. Unfortunately, what I have witnessed over the years of travelling and living in various countries, somehow Islam turns out to be the accused in all this clutter. In fact, Islam is the most moderate of religions that made human beings ponder on the rights of women, children, elderly among others. The first religion to present a code of conduct, a code of living that promotes peace, harmony and above everything equality for all. At the day of judgement, Allah will evaluate everyone equally. One’s gender will not be taken into consideration but the morality the individual possesses.

Islam’s most successful woman entrepreneur remains the Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) first wife Hazrat Khadija (R.A). She was a successful merchant and one of the elite figures of Mecca. She helped the Prophet (P.B.U.H) to propagate the new faith of Islam when people doubted him (P.B.U.H). Her support strengthened the ambitions of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) making her among the most revered female personages in the Islamic history.

Hazrat Ayesha (R.A), a figure in Islam that needs no introduction. The first woman scholar in Islam and perhaps the most influential in the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet. She contributed significantly in scholarship, political life, and the public sphere. Also, she played a notable role in transmitting Islamic teachings and remains one of the main narrators of Hadiths in Islam.

The role of women in Islam is exemplary, and their protection is the duty of every man on this earth. Pakistan was formed as an Islamic country, but today it has taken a turn for the worst. We are fighting like animals for what? Just so that are esteemed women in our society remain exposed to the evil that exists in our community. Many women in Pakistan want to be as successful like Hazrat Khadija (R.A) in their aspiring careers, and many wish to be scholarly like Hazrat Ayesha (R.A). Is it HARAM to think along those lines? Instead of protecting our women from harm’s way we are in fact more interested in a political debate. Making the country hostage with an Islam that is neither the word of Allah nor the teachings of our beloved Prophet (P.B.U.H) has to stop now.

In December 2011, three very powerful bills were passed by the Senate that included Prevention of Anti-Women Practices, Acid Control, and Acid Crimes Prevention and the Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2011. However, all of a sudden the Women Protection against Violence Bill 2016 has gotten the politically motivated religious parties such as Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam headed by Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and Jamat-i-Islami headed by Siraj Ul Haq talking of agitation. In regards to the women protection bill these regressive organisations have demonstrated and are ready to inflict further irrational hatred among different sections of the society in particular to the women. Their insecurities, egos and muscling the current vibrant set-up of Pakistan is the main reasons for joining forces even with their foes to stop women empowerment in the country.

Nawaz Sharif is seen as a corrupt, coward and indecisive leader by many in Pakistan. Nevertheless, his third term in the office has shown character, strong will and progression in Pakistan (especially when it comes to law and order). No matter who is forcing him or is behind these bold moves, Nawaz Sharif will be credited in the history books.

We need to remember that tomorrow it could be our mothers, sister and daughters that may suffer if today we bowed down to those who have little regard for women in Pakistan just because they think it will make men insecure. In a progressive society women stand to help and supports their men. Our Islamic teachings lay emphasis on the rights of women, and its is our obligation to implement the teaching of Islam.

According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, estimated 70 to 90 percent of Pakistani women are subjected to domestic violence of which least 35 percent are admitted to the hospitals in Punjab alone. Furthermore, on average two women are burnt every day in violence against women incidents that mostly go unreported.

If laws are not strict to safeguard their interest we will see a society with lack of morals and disregard to women. A society that will forever remain closed with evils that one will disregard forever.