#TryBeatingMeLightly — Pakistani Religious Council Approves the “Light” Beating of Wives
On May 26, the Council of Islamic Ideology’s (CII) in Pakistan deliberated over and proposed a women’s “protection” bill. Rather than ensure the protection of Islamic women, the potential bill further encourages discrimination and domestic violence against women. The bill was discussed and passed by a panel of the CII consisting solely of men, as the only female member of the body, Dr. Sameeha Rahel Qazi was absent that day.
As Pakistan’s official governmental religious council, the CII consistently condones violence and discrimination against women. Each year, hundreds of Pakistani women are brutally killed in “honor killings”– typically by members of their own families — for their violation of the state’s conservative religious norms. The 20 members of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) give recommendations to Pakistani parliament in regards to what may be declared Islamic or un-Islamic. While the Parliament may then decide to heed their advice or stray from their counsel, the CII is persuasive in Pakistani society.
However, many enraged individuals are calling for the complete abolishment of the Council of Islamic Ideology following their proposal that has since been sent to the Punjab Assembly, as the CII’s official recommendation. The council has proposed that a husband should be allowed to, “lightly beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires.” The CII also collectively agreed that a woman’s refusal of intercourse without any “religious excuse,” a failure to respect Hijab, being loud enough to be heard by strangers, or the provision of monetary support to others without her husband’s permission were all justifiable causations for her to receive a “light” beating from her husband.
The 163-page bill also plans to ban women from military combat, from welcoming foreign delegations, from interacting with males, from modeling in advertisements, or from being a nurse to a male patient. Moreover, and perhaps most disturbingly, it seeks to lower the minimum marriage age for girls to nine, if there are, “visible signs of puberty” observed on her.
Pakistani women have taken to social media with the hashtag #TryBeatingMeLightly in response. Their messages include defiant promises of the consequences if one attempted to “lightly” beat them.
Although the CII’s recommendations are non-binding, they remain heavily influential in Pakistan’s conservative society.