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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Oped: Why the Domestic Violence Bill is not suitable for Pakistan

According to Qamar Islam, a member of Tanzeem-e-Islami, the Domestic Violence Bill is an imported solution that is unsuitable and destructive to our Islamic society. He states that domestic violence is indeed an abhorrent crime, but it needs solutions that are in accordance with Islamic teachings.

The Domestic Violence Bill for Islamabad Capital Territory recently passed by the Senate has caused restlessness among a large number of Pakistanis including the religious community. The poorly written bill has many ill-conceived and anti-Islamic aspects that will damage the family unit.

The Domestic Violence Bills passed earlier by provincial assemblies were criticized by religious parties. The ICT Bill has gone further in fulfilling the anti-Islam agenda. Indeed, domestic violence is an abhorrent crime and we must eradicate it but we need to address it in conformity with our religion, culture, and norms and not impose outside solutions that are unsuitable and destructive to our society.

Domestic Violence Bill and similar laws are being imposed in Pakistan in the name of international commitments. Pakistan ratified CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) in 1996 with a reservation subjecting it to our Constitution which itself is subject to all laws being in conformity with Quran and Sunnah. As for our international commitments, we are within our right to reject any such anti-Islamic requirements.

Read more: Domestic violence could rise as people confined to homes

Initiatives like CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention (for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence) are western proposed solutions to the problems of western society. The Islamic perspective is not built into such protocols and is thus incompatible with Islamic societies.

Turkey was an original member of the Istanbul Convention but has recently pulled out. Some other countries are refusing ratification citing clashes with cultural and religious norms. US has still not ratified the CEDAW convention.

A strong family unit will lead to a healthy society

In western society today, the woman is unprotected in her relationship due to a lack of a marriage contract. Society has exploited the woman in the name of freedom and gender equality so that she is forced to cohabit with men (usually on a short-term basis) who can dump her at any time.

She has to earn her own living and there is no support from her family. In most cases, the family doesn’t even know who she is living with and where. Family bonds have been broken in the name of freedom. Who will then support her if she faces domestic violence? Whom will she turn to for help? Thus, the Government has to come to her rescue.

Read more: Rise of trafficking and domestic violence against women: How to stop it?

Islam does not address domestic violence in isolation, it addresses the family as a whole. If the family is healthy then violence will inevitably disappear. Family being the building block of society, Islam has emphasized making the family unit strong. Healthy families will mean a healthy society.

Firstly, Islam protects women in marriage and any relationships outside of marriage are strictly forbidden. Secondly, the relationship between husband and wife is a strong bond to be nurtured with kindness, love, and mercy.

Prophet PBUH said, “The best among you is the best towards his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Ibn Majah)

Read more: Violence against women: Who is responsible?

Islam’s approach to marital problems

In an organizational unit, there can be only one head. The husband is head of the family responsible for his wife and children’s needs and nurturing. In fulfilling that role, there may be occasions when he has to exercise his authority to admonish and discipline them. However, this authority is not unlimited. In extreme cases, he is even allowed to beat his wife. But this is light beating with a Siwak (Toothbrush).

If they cannot resolve their differences, both of them are urged to search their hearts, evaluate the relationship, and make a serious attempt to reconcile.

“…Live with them in the recognized manner. If you dislike them, then it is quite likely that you dislike something and Allah has placed a lot of good in it” (Quran 4:19)

In case the problem persists, external help is counseled.

“If you fear a split between them (the spouses), send one arbitrator from his people and one from her people. If they desire to set things right, Allah shall bring about harmony between them.” (Quran 4:35)

Read more: Pakistan’s high divorce cases: Lack of love, or laws?

Despite all these efforts, sometimes divorce may become unavoidable. Even in divorce, the direction is to separate in the best possible way.

The Prophet PBUH said, “Of all the lawful things, divorce is the most hated by Allah.”

Allah says: “The parties should either hold together on equitable terms or separate with kindness.” (Quran 2:229)

Islam’s approach is to try to solve marital problems and avoid breakups as much as possible because as a result, the children will suffer along with the parents. Islam, therefore, makes every attempt to repair the relationship and save the marriage through advice and mediation. Where relationships are involved, police complaints and legal remedies should be the last resort because it is difficult to reconcile the hearts once litigation has begun.

In cases of serious issues of violence, the wife always has the provision to file for divorce (khula). Additionally, she has her family’s support behind her which acts as a deterrent against domestic violence.

Read more: Domestic violence, political participation: How can Pakistan protect its women?

Problems with the Domestic Violence Bill

Our Parliament has ignored this divine wisdom and imported a solution devised for a totally different social set-up. Threats of divorce, insults, ridicule, and harassment are made crimes punishable by law. If a husband is reported to police for any of these delinquencies, then how will the law protect the wife if he actually decides to divorce her in retaliation? By taking action against him for “negligent abandonment”, are we expecting to save the marriage and create love between the two?

This law is also an attempt to encourage children to rebel against their parents. Forget about disciplining; any questioning could easily fall into “invasion of privacy, liberty, and integrity” and be liable for punishment. The father is still responsible for financial support because “intentional deprivation of economic or financial resources” is also an offense.

These kinds of laws are a surefire recipe for breaking the family bonds. This is how the west has destroyed its family system and this is what our genius leaders and legislators are trying to emulate in this country.

Read more: 200% increase in cases of violence against women in past three months: report

A large majority of our legislators lack command of the English Language and the legal jargon to fully comprehend the laws they approve. In most cases, they are blind followers of the party’s dictates. And all major parties, when it comes to fulfilling the western agendas, are all too eager to oblige.

Islam has given us the best guidance for the family system and the need is to educate the people and to improve its implementation. We need leaders who can think independently, see what is best for our Islamic society, and put into place solutions that suit us.

Our Constitution cannot have any laws “repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah”. PM has therefore taken the prudent step by referring the Bill to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII); the very purpose of creating the CII is to ensure the laws’ conformance to Islam.

Read more: Imran Khan’s ultra-conservatism worries West- Prof. James Dorsey?

The author is a retired IT Professional with degrees in Engineering and Business from Pakistan, the USA, and the UK with 34 years of professional experience working in the USA, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia in some well-known companies. He is a member of Tanzeem-e-Islami founded by Late Dr. Israr Ahmed.

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.