ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights has held the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) responsible for increased incidents of violence against women and expressed concern over the council’s proposed bill for women’s protection, which allows men to ‘lightly’ beat their wives. PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said the CII had submitted its final report to parliament in 1997 and, therefore, according to the Constitution, there was no reason for the council to continue.
“The recent increase in violence against women and incidents of honour killings are because of the council’s recommendations. Whenever the CII recommends that a husband is allowed to beat his wife, an [enabling] environment is created for violence against women,” he added.
PPP senator says council has no constitutional reason to exist Mr Babar said that a legal opinion should be sought from the Ministry of Law about the current status of the CII. The senator said such incidents were also increasing due to the production of films and dramas depicting honour killings, which in his opinion, should not be telecast.
Committee chairperson Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement agreed, and said that some actions of the CII were “annoying” and there was no doubt about the increase in violence against women. “We are moving backwards instead of progressing. Meanwhile, parliamentarians are also staying silent over incidents of violence against women,” she said. When it comes to honour, she said, women are considered second-class citizens. Ms Jalil called for a ban on the use of qisas and diyat laws in honour cases.
“The CII’s recommendations, which allow a husband to beat his wife, make no sense. Not accepting DNA tests as evidence in rape cases show the backwardness of the council’s members,” she said.In 2013, the council had ruled that DNA tests were not acceptable as primary evidence in cases of rape, but could be used as supporting evidence for confirming the crime. Senator Babar then observed that in some cases, when a brother kills his sister for ‘honour’, the father forgives him and that there should therefore be a ban on forgiving the culprit in such cases. “A bill was passed by the Senate in this regard, but is pending before the National Assembly. In cases of honour killings, execution should not be forgiven,” he said.
The issue came up during discussion on an agenda item regarding violence against women, particularly the recent incidents of burning women in the name of honour. The government had been asked to pass an anti-honour killing bill, which was unanimously approved by the Senate and referred to the National Assembly. A joint sitting of parliament could not adopt it in its last session for want of a consensus. Laws such as the Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2015, and the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2015, were not passed by the National Assembly within the stipulated 90-day period following the assent of the Senate A recent resolution, passed by the National Assembly, also resolved to act in earnest to prevent violence against women. But despite getting a Protection of Women bill approved by the Punjab Assembly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has since backpedalled and submitted that bill to the CII, which promptly rejected it and proposed its own version.