ISLAMABAD: Human rights activists and civil society representatives have protested here against the recent remarks of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) about child marriages. Gathered at the CII building on Monday, the protesters asked the government to abolish the CII to save the taxpayers’ money.
They said that the CII is going beyond its jurisdiction and mandate. “The CII members must realise that it is not a constitution-making body so it would be better to stop giving views on legislation. The CII is making a mockery of Islam, said human rights activist Farzana Bari. She said that CII is a political body dominated by members of orthodox religious political parties who lack religious knowledge.
“Only parliament has the right to legislate and eminent scholars with the highest degree of education in religion can assist it in making laws,” she added.
Farzana said the CII is not only creating a sense of insecurity amongst half of the female population of the country but also defaming Islam and shaming us among the international community with whom our government has signed several women’s and children’s rights international conventions and covenants.
HR activist Fatima Atif said that government organisations and departments should protect women and children that are already struggling for their basic rights. “Islam gives tremendous rights to women and the CII should focus on ensuring those rights to women so that they can feel protected,” she said.
Executive Director of a civil society organisation Saleem Malik opined that such a comment from the CII would hinder the progress on pending bills at the federal and provincial levels about increasing the minimum marriageable age for girls. “The legislation is waiting to come on the agenda in the Sindh Assembly whereas in Punjab, the draft is ready. Such comments at this stage will have negative impact on the legislation meant to protect girls,” he said.
A statement issued by protesters said that the list of CII’s retrogressive stances in the name of Islam is fairly long. The council opposed family planning. It declared the Women’s Protection Act 2006 as un-Islamic that provides relief to rape victims and opposed DNA as primary evidence in rape cases. It challenges the Family Law Ordinance that make mandatory for men to seek permission from the first wife in case of second marriage. “We wish to make it clear to the government that people of Pakistan who believe in gender equality and HR will not allow anyone to play with the lives of our children and women in the name of Islam. We urge all those who believe in the vision of Quaid-i-Azam’s progressive and democratic Pakistan that it is high time that we play our role by rising to challenge the decadent version of Shirani’s Islam that threatens the health and lives of our children and women.”