The Punjab government ‘s initiative about promulgating a Women Protection Bill is being much appreciated by the women on one side but has become a victim of the severe criticism by the religious scholars and Ulemas. Why is that so…..does Islam allow violence and harassment against women…..what is our culture and why when it comes to the rights of women in society; our religious political parties declare it un-Islamic and unethical….?
Life of a woman in Pakistan has always been dependent upon her father, brother or her husband. She has always been treated as a ‘property’. She cannot make even a single decision of her life by herself. From the very beginning of her life till death she has been put on invisible chains in the name of the so-called norms of society. According to a report issued by a local NGO; more than 7010 cases of violence against women were reported in the year, 2014 while during the first six months of 2015, and the total number cases of violence remained 2926 that is certainly considerable.
I am not going to discuss the different kinds of domestic violence a woman suffers from throughout her life. I am not even going to debate upon whether it is right or wrong. The reason I am here is just to throw light on this bitter reality that the resistance against ‘Protection of Women against Violence Bill’ by the religious political parties and scholars is distorting the image of Pakistan in the developed world that is really alarming.
My heart was filled with pride when I came to know that the Punjab Assembly has approved a Bill to protect the women against violence. This cruel domestic violence every year takes away the lives of innocent women who become a victim of atrocities of either their in-laws (especially mother-in law) or their husbands. But it was really shocking to me that our renowned religious political leaders and scholars were continuously condemning this bill while declaring it a conspiracy against our cultural values and strong family system. According to them, this Bill will lead to a significant increase in the divorce rate across the country.
Being a journalist, I am aware of the political system of Pakistan. I know that our religion and our social values are always used by some political leader for their political interests. I had a question in mind, “Can these political leaders bear their daughters to become a victim of domestic violence?” The answer is obviously ‘no’. Nobody can even see his daughter to be beaten. I cannot stop myself from recalling what my grandmother said to her daughter on her wedding day. “You are going to your new house. You are only allowed to leave that house when you die. You have to spend your life there even if you will have to face the worst circumstances. ”, she advised her daughter.
So, in my opinion, the opponents of Protection of Women against Violence Bill want the women to even die but not to open their lips against violence. That is totally unfair and unjustifiable.
I wish I could elaborate that such practices are distorting the images of Pakistan among the international community.
Some a few days back I had to visit USA to attend a conference on Pak-US relations in Washington DC. There I met a scholar, Michael Smith who was associated with a non-profit organization. The first question he asked me after my introduction was “Why the women of Pakistan are still being treated as an ‘inferior’ creature. Even your political leaders are not in the favor of women rights. What do you think is that right as the world has stepped into 21st century but still most of the Pakistani women are becoming a victim of domestic violence very frequently? Is not that showing extremism ….?” he was taunting but I had no words to defend my country. I was just silent and I don’t know…..how many Pakistanis among us have to be silent when they have to answer such questions that are showing nothing but just the distorted face of a ……harsh reality.