24 February 2016, Punjab – Pakistan
A flame flickered briefly at the end of February, giving hope to the thousands of women subjected to domestic violence who currently have nowhere to turn.
The Protection of Women Against Violence Bill passed the Punjab provincial legislature unanimously on February 24, after about nine months of opposition.
The legislation criminalizes domestic, emotional, psychological, verbal and economic abuse, as well as stalking and cybercrime.
It would establish a 24-hour domestic abuse hotline, a network of shelters or safe houses where women could take refuge and receive basic medical aid and counseling for physical and mental abuse. The law effectively mandates intervention by local authorities on behalf of abuse victims — and penalties for offenders.
Some have claimed the Bill could be a game changer…
Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology, a committee comprised of Islamic scholars that regularly advises the government on the compliance of laws with Islamic values, has declared the Women’s Protection Act un-Islamic.
In a press conference last Thursday, council chairman Muhammad Khan Sherani demanded the bill be handed over for a formal review.
“It is unacceptable,” he said. “The law seems to have the objective of pushing women out of the home and to increase their problems.”
Others who have joined the fight to block the bill complain that it violates men’s rights and dignity. Some have labelled it a secular move driven by a western conspiracy.”
Today’s the International Women’s Day. Which is not about nice pictures, hot male-strippers’ dances, women going out with their girl-friends to get drunk (and laid).
Or it shouldn’t be.
At least, just because in most countries of the world, women can’t do that. As many other, fundamental things. Including leaving their home if their husband abuses them, or denounce a rape.
Happy International Women’s day, then.
To us, who can celebrate it. And to those who can’t (and may never can).