Husbands should be allowed to “lightly beat” their wives, the Council of Islamic Ideology recommended while opposing the law passed by Pakistan’s most populated province this year that provides protection – and a potential escape to wives from abusive husbands.
The council, also known as the CII and made up of Islamic clerics and scholars who advise Pakistani legislators, said it was “un-Islamic” for women to leave an abusive relationship and seek refuge in a shelter.
Before the bill is expanded from Punjab to other areas of Pakistan, the council said it wanted to weigh in with its own proposal. A draft of the proposal is now complete, and reads like an appalling misprint — husbands should be allowed to “lightly beat” their wives, the CII recommends.
“A husband should be allowed to lightly beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires; turns down demand of intercourse without any religious excuse or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods,” the report states, according to Pakistan’s Express-Tribune newspaper.
The CII, said that its recommendations are given according to Quranic teachings and Sharia law, also asks to legalize domestic violence if a woman refuses to cover her head or face in public, “interacts with strangers; speaks loud enough that she can easily be heard by strangers; and provides monetary support to people without taking consent of her spouse,” the Express-Tribune reported.
The document seeks ban of women from appearing in television or print advertising campaigns and would prohibit female nurses from treating male patients. It also suggested to give permission to husband to forbid his wife from visiting males other than relatives.
In an interview, Farzana Bari, an Islamabad-based human rights activist, said the proposal should convince Pakistanis to rally for the council to be permanently disbanded.
“It shows the decadent mindset of some elements who are part of the council,” Bari said. “The proposed bill has nothing to do with Islam and it would just bring a bad name to this country.”
According to Pakistan’s constitution, it is an “Islamic Republic” with democratically elected national and provincial legislators. The Council of Islamic Ideology was made so that legislators can seek clerics’ advice before implementing legislation that may conflict with Islamic law.
If legislators defy the council, its members have been known to accuse lawmakers of blasphemy. In Pakistan, a formal blasphemy charge can be punishable by the death sentence.
In national elections, Islamist parties with close links to CII members generally receive no more than 10 percent of the total national vote. Absent political support, the CII has become a vehicle for allowing extreme views to remain entrenched in public policy, she said.
“Violence against women can’t be accepted, and it’s time for the nation to stand up to people who come up with such proposed laws,” Bari said.