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No rights for women

Sir: Over the past few months, the Punjab Assembly has tabled numerous pointless resolutions and has been a forum for all sorts of outlandish statements. However, a recent suggestion was tabled by one of the MPAs, which I feel really takes the cake.

Samina Khawar Hayat tabled a suggestion that the Punjab government amend the Muslim Family Laws allowing men to marry for the second, third and fourth time without the consent of the first wife. I cannot convey the horror I feel at such a suggestion being tabled, let alone by a female legislator.

Is it not enough that in Pakistan a woman is scarcely treated as a full citizen, who cannot depend on the government or law enforcement authorities to protect the few rights that she does have? Does the honourable Ms Hayat really believe that women need to be marginalised even more? In a marriage in Pakistan, women do not have the same rights of divorce as a man, they cannot hope to be protected from spousal abuse, in fact the entire legal system seems to be for the benefit of the husband alone, whose right to control his wife’s slightest act is codified in a way that makes women all but prisoners. And now this absurd suggestion to rob women of a basic right that makes their husbands accountable to them is pathetic to say the least.

It is a sad reflection of our society that any legislative initiatives to rob women of their rights are instantly supported, yet legislations like the Women’s Protection Bill and Child Protection Bill linger in a cesspool of red-tapism. Ms Hayat suggests this initiative is to soothe the ‘frustration’ of Pakistani men while totally disregarding the damage such a move would cause to the psyches and relationships of millions of Pakistani women. This initiative is nothing more than an attempt to legalise extramarital affairs and reduce the cost of maintaining mistresses.

Shame on Samina Hayat for surrendering her rights as a woman and shame on those lawmakers who termed her suggestion ‘ideal’! I was under the false impression that Pakistan was moving towards empowerment and emancipation of women, yet it seems that our lawmakers would rather have it the other way around. But I suppose it is my own fault for expecting too much of them.
HASSAN KILDE BAJWA
Lahore

Source: Daily Times

Date:2/21/2010

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