By Gulmina Bilal
For many it was the “Good Friday.” For others it was another day of struggle. More than 600 women gathered outside the National Assembly for a protest. These women did not belong to a particular group, organisation or community, but were representing a true mix of Pakistani women. There were veiled women, women who were modestly dressed according to the socio-cultural environment and those women were also present that are considered ‘modern’ in our society. However, all of them were there for a common reason.
It is a misnomer in our society that women who actively talk about their rights and also go to the extent of protesting for them, are following western values. However, this was not the case here. These women had gathered to protest for the enactment of a law against domestic violence, a problem that is so widespread in our society that sometimes it gets difficult to find homes where this problem does not exist.
Surprisingly, a presumably ‘religious group’ of people, including men and women also started gathering around the women who were protesting for an altogether ‘noble’ reason. As the religious group increased in number, they started arguing with the protesting women. They were of the view that these protesting women are fighting for a cause that is not Islamic. They are working on the instructions of their western masters and are disseminating western values in society. Sadly, one thing that the religious group failed to notice was that there were veiled women in the group as well, who according to their standards are considered “Islamic.” So the point of conflict or argument was not clear and it all seemed a failed effort to curb the voice of women who actively voice their concerns.
Domestic violence, if seen from a woman’s perspective is one of the biggest problems in our society. In every household, whether large or small, rich or poor, domestic violence is prevalent with the exception of only a few. I strongly believe that there is nothing un-Islamic in talking or protesting about putting an end to this problem. Islamic scholars always talk about the place a woman has been given in Islam. They always talk about the rights and privileges that a Muslim woman is entitled to, but sadly, when it comes to women rights and putting an end to domestic violence, such religious people just do not want to listen to the voices of reasons. They consider talking about such issues as un-Islamic. A similar deadlock was observed in the assembly over a landmark bill that seeks to deter all forms of domestic violence against women. This deadlock was mostly due to the opposition from Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-Fazl.
It is not understandable that why do religious groups and parties raise hue and cry over such issues and try to term them un-Islamic, when there is nothing un-Islamic about protesting on women rights. Sadly, such politicians have decades of experience in politics but lack political vision. It is easily understandable that a country where ‘objectives resolution’ was particularly adopted to give religious colour to everything, and a constitution that ensures that every law will be enacted according to the teachings of Islam, then why these religious people are worried about a bill that is only putting an end to domestic violence. Perhaps it is something else that these people are afraid of. Islam reveres woman as mother, sister and daughter and gives her all the rights within the home and in society as well. If an effort is being made to rid the society, particularly women of domestic violence then I strongly believe that it should not be considered ‘un-Islamic’ or ‘western.’