A law passed in Pakistan this March that will make it easier for victims of domestic violence to come forward. But not everyone is happy about it. The Council of Islamic Ideology, an extreme group that consults for the government has introduced a bill that would allow men to “lightly beat” their wives. In the past, the Pakistani government has listened to this group on family matters. Add your name here to urge the Punjab government to ignore their bill before any more women are abused with no route to recourse.
The CII’s bill states that men should be allowed to beat their wives if they “act out.” If for example, a wife shows too much skin, she can be beaten. Or, if she refuses sex, she can be beaten. This horrifying bill that advocates for the allowance of physical abuse is clearly in reaction to heightened women’s rights in the country.
The CII has tried to gain control over financial and political decisions, with little success. They have, however, had more success in the family sphere. For example, the legal marriage age in Pakistan is 16. Some groups wanted to increase it to 18, until the CII weighed in and the age stayed at 16. They have been lobbying for the legal marriage age to move to 12 for boys and 9 for girls for years.
It’s not altogether unsurprising that a group of religious zealots who wants to sanction child marriage also believes it is in their purview to control whether or not domestic violence is acceptable. The scary part of all of this is that this extremist group has some influence over family life policies in Pakistan.
That’s why the “Try beating me lightly” hashtag and movement started by Fanhad Rapier is so important. The hashtag is filled with Pakistani women explaining what they would do if someone tried to beat them lightly. There are promises to run the perpetrator over with a car, break their wrist and other actions of defense. It is a strong stand by Pakistani women agreeing that they will not accept the legalization of domestic violence.
Like most nations, Pakistan does care about its public international image. Which means if we all cry out against this bill, our voices will make a difference in whether the government listens to the recommendation or not.It’s time for us to stand by these women and against the CII. We can and therefore should use our voices to urge the Pakistani government to ignore this new absurd recommendation by the CII and keep protecting women against domestic violence.