Law criminalizing violence against women declared “un-Islamic”

Mehreen Zahra-Malik reports at Reuters:

A powerful Pakistani religious body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam on Thursday declared a new law that criminalizes violence against women to be “un-Islamic.”

Thus throwing a massive spanner into the project of liberal secular Muslims who argue that it’s violence against women that’s un-Islamic.

The Women’s Protection Act, passed by Pakistan’s largest province of Punjab last week, gives unprecedented legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence. It also calls for the creation of a toll-free abuse reporting hot line and the establishment of women’s shelters.

But since its passage in the Punjab assembly, many conservative clerics and religious leaders have denounced the new law as being in conflict with the Muslim holy book, the Koran, as well as Pakistan’s constitution.

That’s such an astonishingly ugly and indefensible position to take. Those conservative clerics and religious leaders are saying that the Koran is cool with violence against women, or perhaps even that it mandates it. Do they really want to say that?

Why would anyone ever want to worship a god who approves violence against any set of people? Why would anyone ever want to worship a god of hatred and domination?

The 54-year-old council is known for its controversial decisions. In the past it has ruled that DNA cannot be used as primary evidence in rape cases, and it supported a law that requires women alleging rape to get four male witnesses to testify in court before a case is heard.

The council’s decision this January to block a bill to impose harsher penalties for marrying off girls as young as eight or nine has angered human rights activists.

“Controversial” isn’t the right word for those decisions. Immoral, misogynist, sadistic, abusive are better fits.

Fazlur Rehman, the chief of one of Pakistan’s largest religious parties, the Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam, said the law was in conflict with both Islam and the constitution of Pakistan.

“This law makes a man insecure,” he told journalists.

And that’s all wrong, because it’s women who should be insecure, and beaten, raped, married off in childhood, denied education, killed at whim. Men must be secure in their power to inflict all that with impunity.

If the conservative clerics and religious leaders are right that that’s Islam, then Islam is a horror.

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