Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology, CII, has proposed a bill that allows husbands to beat their wives, as long as they do it “lightly”, as a form of discipline for wives who decline sex or refuse to wear what their mates prefer.
The Chairman of the powerful constitutional body, Mohammad Khan Sheerani, in a 75-page proposal, suggested that a light beating is acceptable should the need arise to punish a woman.
The Council of Islamic Ideology is a powerful constitutional body that advises the Pakistani legislature whether laws are in line with the teachings of Islam.
Its proposed controversial bill is seen as a response to the rejected Punjab Women Protection bill for abused women. Its alternative draft proposal, while suggesting some women’s rights be enshrined in law, also says:
“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 for intercourse without any religious excuse; or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods.”
The proposal also suggests interacting with strangers not wearing a hijab and speaking too loudly among other potential activities that might incur a light beating. It also bans forceful beating, saying only a small stick is necessary to instill fear. The Express-Tribune quoted the proposal as saying:
“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”.
A “bit strict”, he clarified, would include “(hitting) her with light things like handkerchief, a hat or a turban, but do not hit her on the face or private parts”. The council went so far as to provide guidelines on how to inflict the beatings.
“Hit her in areas where her skin is not too thick and not too thin,” CII leader Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani told a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday. “Do not use shoes or a broom on the head, or hit her on the nose or eyes.”
“Do not break any bones or cut her skin or leave any marks,” he added. “Do not hit her vindictively, but only for reminding her about her religious duties.”
It also suggests bans on various activities, including women fighting in wars. But it allows women to participate in politics and become judges, and proposes that the need for a guardian for women of age is not required.
The proposal also says that women should not be permitted to receive non-relatives or foreign officials, and they should not use birth control pills without asking their husbands.
The council’s draft proposal has met with a furious response in Pakistan, including calls for the Council of Islamic Ideology to be disbanded. However, the consolation is that proposals by the Council of Islamic Ideology are recommendations and are not applicable unless passed by legislators.