Pakistani women are speaking out on social media against a proposed bill by Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology that would permit husbands to "lightly" beat their wives.
The bill was proposed months by the religious advisory council after the Punjab government passed, but did not enact, a bill to protect women. The Punjab bill would help victims of domestic violence report abuse and would implement procedures to protect accusers until their cases were resolved. The Islamic council opposed the law, saying it was "un-Islamic" for women to leave and seek refuge even if she had been abused.
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Muhammad Kahn Sherani, chairman of the council, told reporters that a "light" beating should be a husband’s last resort.
Pakistan’s Express-Tribune newspaper reported that Sherani said, "If you want her to mend her ways, you should first advise her…If she refuses, stop talking to her … stop sharing a bed with her, and if things do not change, get a bit strict."
Among 163 clauses that largely limit the rights of women, one reads, "A husband should be allowed to lightly beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires, turns down demand of intercourse without any religious excuse or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods."
A Karachi-based photographer, Fahhad Rajper, responded to the law by posting a series of black and white portraits showing Pakistani women responding to the law. Each photo was accompanied by a comment and the hashtag #TryBeatingMeLightly.
Rajper said he was disturbed by the law and "anyone who’s sane enough wouldn’t be okay with it," the Huffington Post reported.
"Islam doesn’t preach [any] such thing, be it for a man or a woman," Rajper said.
Rajper posted on his Facebook that "#TryBeatingMeLightly is an initiative to empower women amongst us who work towards individual and collective betterment. It’s an opportunity for those to voice their opinion who can’t or don’t. The women around me, at my home, in my friend circle and in the industry that I love – like yourself."
Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission estimated that 70 percent of Pakistani women have suffered domestic violence. In a statement, the Human Rights Commission said it is "difficult to comprehend why anyone in his right mind would think that any further encouragement or justification is needed to invite violence upon women in Pakistan."
The Islamic council’s proposal is not binding but stands as a recommendation to Pakistan’s legislature.