Men can beat wives ‘lightly’ says Pakistan’s Islamic council

Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani addresses a press conference in Islamabad on May 26, 2016. 
Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani addresses a press conference in Islamabad on May 26, 2016.  CREDIT: AFP PHOTO / FAROOQ NAEEMFAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Adraft proposal by Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology has recommended that husbands should be able to beat their wives, as long as they do it “lightly”.

CII chairman Muhammad Kahn Sherani told the Express-Tribune newspaper:  “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 husband should be allowed to lightly beat his wife if she defies his commandsPakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology

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’s draft proposal has met with a furious response in Pakistan, including calls for the CII to be disbanded. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement: “As much as the HRCP wanted not to dignify with any comment the ridiculous CII recommendations regarding ‘light beating’ of women, the commission thinks it is imperative that every right-respecting person must condemn such counsel unreservedly. The irony of calling the measures women protection should not be lost on anyone.” 

Pakistani women display their national identity card
Pakistani women display their national identity card CREDIT: EPA/NADEEM KHAWER

The Council of Islamic Ideology advises Pakistan’s government and lawmakers on Islamic issues. Its proposals are recommendations, and not legally enforced.

The council drafted the controversial proposal in response to The Women’s Protection Act, enacted in the province of Punjab in February, which is intended to improve legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence.

The CII criticised the Women’s Protection Act as being “un-Islamic”. 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, the Express Tribune reports.

 

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Afghanistan: No Country for Women

In war-torn Afghanistan it is not the Taliban that poses the greatest threat to women – it is their own families.

 

 

 

 


 

By Nagina

‘Mariam’ was seven months pregnant the last time her husband almost killed her. She doesn’t remember what triggered the attack. What she remembers is being slammed to the floor, and her husband’s foot crushing her neck.

“I started bleeding,” she said. “All the cushions on the floor were wet with my blood.”

Mariam, which is not her real name, has been hiding in a secret women’s shelter in Kabul for the past two months. She lives with around 20 women who have travelled here from across Afghanistan, each with their own horrific story of abuse.

Some have left violent husbands. Others have been raped or are fleeing forced marriages arranged by their parents. All of them are terrified that they will be killed by their families.

War-torn Afghanistan is ranked as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be born a woman, according to a survey by the Thompson Reuters Foundation.

It’s a question of control and power. You use religion, you use culture, you use tradition, you use gender to keep the power, to keep control.

Sima Samar, women’s rights activist and chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

Under the Taliban women were banned from going to school and working. They were not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative or be seen in public without a burqa. For defying the regime’s repressive laws, women were openly flogged and executed.

But 13 years after the fall of the Taliban, and despite the influx of billions of dollars in development aid, many Afghan women are still living in terror.

A report by Global Rights estimates that almost 90 percent of women experience physical, sexual or psychological abuse or forced marriage. Overwhelmingly, it is their families who are committing these crimes.

“It’s a question of control and power,” said Sima Samar, a prominent women’s rights activist and chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. “You use religion, you use culture, you use tradition, you use gender to keep the power, to keep control.”

When Mariam, 25, got married five years ago, she never imagined that she would end up in a shelter.

“When I first saw my husband I thought he was the right man for me,” she said, sitting on the floor of the shelter with her head covered in a black scarf.

“I thought I’d have someone to share my pain and my secrets with. I’d have children and live a happy life.”

But she says the abuse began almost immediately. Without warning, her husband would erupt into violent rages, at times threatening her with a loaded gun or dragging her by her hair through their home.

When she tried to seek help from the police, they released her husband after a few hours. Even her parents refused to help her, returning her to her in-laws after assurances that she would not be beaten.

Mariam says her husband was diagnosed with a mental illness and prescribed medication. But the torment continued.

“I thought about killing myself but I couldn’t go through with it because I was pregnant. I was so tired. Most of the time I didn’t even have the energy to defend myself and nobody was there to defend me,” she said, showing no emotion.

A report by Global Rights estimates that almost 90 percent of women experience physical, sexual or psychological abuse or forced marriage [Al Jazeera]

Mariam and the other women at the shelter are the lucky ones. For now, at least, they are safe. But there are only 14 protection centres across Afghanistan and most are in urban areas. Many women simply cannot reach them.

But even these few shelters are under threat. Foreign governments and donors are cutting back on funding as the international community pulls out of Afghanistan. And the national government is not filling in the gap. There are also powerful leaders within the country who want the shelters to close.

I have never lived a good life here [in Afghanistan]. Not as a girl, not as a woman, not even as a mother.

‘Mariam’, an Afghan domestic abuse victim

“These so-called ‘safe houses’ are very bad,” said Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, a popular member of Afghanistan’s parliament representing the western city of Herat.

“They protect people who are doing wrong things and give them immunity. They open the gates to social problems like AIDS.”

Hanafi and other lawmakers have also fought legislation that increases punishment for crimes against women.

The 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) banned and set new penalties for underage and forced marriage, rape, forced prostitution and other abuses. But it was only passed into law through a presidential decree.

“It’s a male conservative, selfish mentality,” said Samar. “They believe that they have the superiority of being men and having a long beard. They are not there to think that every human being is equal,” she said.

Back at the shelter, Mariam is torn between standing up for her rights and securing a future for her children. Her one-year-old son still lives with her husband and she is now nine months pregnant with her second child.
Her husband admitted to beating her, and tried to justify it by saying the abuse was never serious.

“My wife is so stubborn,” he said. “She was always arguing with my father, my mother and sisters. So one day I hit her.”

Without an income or a place to live, Mariam’s lawyer at the shelter says a court is likely to grant custody of the children to her husband despite his violent history.

Her parents have refused to take her in, and she has no other options. It is a problem that almost all the women at the shelter face. They may have had the courage to leave their abusive families, but where will they go now?

For Mariam, it is a grim realisation that is only now sinking in.

“I have never lived a good life here,” she said. “Not as a girl, not as a woman, not even as a mother.”

 

Bleaching kills off ‘third of Great Barrier Reef coral’

Surveys say around 35 percent of the coral in northern and central sections of the Great Barrier Reef are dead or dying.

The findings are a major blow to the World Heritage Site that attracts about A$5bn ($3.6bn) in tourism each year [Reuters]

Mass bleaching has destroyed as much as one third of the coral on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef in Australia, according to a research.

Australian researchers found that around 35 percent of the coral in the northern and central sections of the reef are dead or dying, said Terry Hughes, a professor with James Cook University in the Queensland state, said on Monday.

The findings, depending on months of aerial and underwater surveys of the 2,300km reef off the country’s east coast, are a major blow to the World Heritage Site that attracts about A$5bn ($3.6bn) in tourism each year.

 

“This year is the third time in 18 years that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced mass bleaching due to global warming, and the current event is much more extreme than we have measured before,” said Hughes.

Bleaching occurs when the water is too warm, forcing coral to expel living algae and causing it to calcify and turn white. Mildly bleached coral can recover if the temperature drops, otherwise it may die.

Although the impact has been exacerbated by one of the strongest El Nino weather systems in nearly 20 years, which recently subsided, scientists believe climate change is the underlying cause.

Findings omitted in UN report

 
Pollution threatens Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

The World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate report, which was released on Friday with no references to Australia, has sparked outrage from climate scientists, who were not informed that their contributions had been removed.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee last May stopped short of placing the Great Barrier Reef on an “in danger” list, but the ruling raised concern about its future.

Australia is one of the largest carbon emitters per capita because of its reliance on coal-fired power plants for electricity.

 

Chinese citizen targeted in Karachi blast

KARACHI: At least one person sustained minor injuries in a remote-controlled explosion targeting a Chinese engineer in Karachi’s Gulshan-i-Hadeed area on Monday, police said. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rao Anwar said a pamphlet written in Sindhi and bearing the name of a group called ‘Sindhudesh Revolutionary Party’ was recovered from the site of the blast.

The pamphlet denounced “foreign control over Sindh’s natural resources”. A closer view of the damaged vehicle. ─ DawnNews The injured was a driver for a Chinese engineer who was residing in the area and traveling on the National Highway heading towards Port Qasim from Gulshan-i-Hadeed without security. The Chinese national was safe, said SSP Rao. The pamphlet recovered from the site of the blast. 

DawnNews Police cordoned off the area and collected evidence from the scene for investigation. Five hundred grams of explosives were used in the improvised explosive device (IED), which included nuts and bolts. Witnesses from a truck nearby reported seeing a suspicious item in the green belt of the road, which exploded as the black vehicle carrying the Chinese engineer passed by. According to DIG East Zone Dr Kamran Fazal, the roadside bomb was planted opposite Quaid-i-Azam Park along National Highway. Gulshan-i-Hadeed is a neighbourhood in Karachi’s Bin Qasim Town.

The town is situated near Pakistan Steel Mills and houses its workers. Hundreds of Chinese workers are currently working all over Pakistan on various development projects, including the the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Thar coal power project.

In Aug 2015, the Sindh police claimed to have chalked out a comprehensive security plan for Chinese nationals and professionals visiting Karachi and other parts of the province for CPEC-related projects. Nearly six months ago, for 111 Chinese projects, the Sindh police were ensuring security to more than 1,500 nationals of the neighbouring country. A view of the vehicle’s interior. ─ DawnNews The main responsibility for securing the corridor, vital to Pakistan’s long-term prosperity, lies with a new army division established in the last few months and numbering an estimated 13,000 troops. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Inspector General (IG) Sindh AD Khawaja took notice of the incident and called for an investigation.

  KARACHI: At least one person sustained minor injuries in a remote-controlled explosion targeting a Chinese engineer in Karachi’s Gulshan-i-Hadeed area on Monday, police said. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rao Anwar said a pamphlet written in Sindhi and bearing the name of a group called ‘Sindhudesh Revolutionary Party’ was recovered from the site of the blast. The pamphlet denounced “foreign control over Sindh’s natural resources”. A closer view of the damaged vehicle. ─ DawnNews The injured was a driver for a Chinese engineer who was residing in the area and traveling on the National Highway heading towards Port Qasim from Gulshan-i-Hadeed without security. The Chinese national was safe, said SSP Rao.

 DawnNews The main responsibility for securing the corridor, vital to Pakistan’s long-term prosperity, lies with a new army division established in the last few months and numbering an estimated 13,000 troops. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Inspector General (IG) Sindh AD Khawaja took notice of the incident and called for an investigation.