No CII, I do not want Sharia to dictate my rights

There are people out there who regard the Council of Islamic Ideology’s recommendations with due respect and consideration. And that to me is scary

The much esteemed (and mostly useless) Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) – an advisory body that provides suggestion to the government on religion and Shariah – has come out with a Women's Protection Bill. Yes, you read this right. After they realised that Islam was in danger and that macho Pakistani Muslim men were being emasculated because the Government of Punjab had come up with a Women's Protection Bill, they decided to come up with one of their own.

This one allows men to "lightly" beat their wives among other doozies. After all they are being beaten for their own protection, as per Shariah. And to be fair, Shariah and the Quran (4:34) do ordain that. They have also recommended that women be banned from interacting with males and from "making recreational visits with Na-mehram".  There are many other such beauties but basically, they want women to have all the rights that they have in Saudi Arabia and we all know how well that is going.

Muslims have this tendency of explaining to others that Islam provided rights to women in an era where they did not have those rights. I tend to disagree with that but that is a whole other debate. Let's assume that they were provided with these rights. And these rights were perfect. The thing to understand is that they were perfect for 7th century Arabia.  They are not perfect today. In fact, they are not even rights but just methods to subjugate women.

As a 21st century woman, I do not want the perverted, bearded gents that comprise the CII to tell me what my rights are. I am very well aware of my rights and I do not need a bunch of men to give them to me. My rights are to live my life as an individual and are not based on my gender. I am not going to be made to do things because sexually repressed men cannot keep it in their pants. I am not my gender, I am a human being.

No, the Shariah does not provide women with the rights they should demand in this day and age. It is very clear to anyone with half a brain cell.

The Women's Protection Bill that the Punjab Government had come up with was to ensure that women from all sectors are protected. It is a bill that is a crucial aspect of human rights in this century. The CII on the other hand want to take us back 1400 years.

Well, here is a loud and resounding NO in response to that. The women in this country need to be taken out of the already suppressed and repressed lives they lead, to the extent that a vast majority of them suffers from a fatal case of Stockholm Syndrome. They need to be taken out of this thinking if Pakistan is to move forward and join the rest of the world.

And therefore, the laws that are required for this cannot and should not be taken from Islamic scriptures. They just cannot. We have to realise that individual human rights trump any religious doctrine and that is the only way we will progress.

Now, the CII is only an advisory body and the government does not have to take any of its advice. However, the KP Government of the esteemed Mullah, sorry I mean Mr. Imran Khan's party, had also come up with a Women's Protection Bill, which was sent to the CII for vetting and was rejected. So the point is this: there are people out there who regard these recommendations with due respect and consideration. And that to me is scary. The first step to stop people from accepting archaic ideas as something that works today and deluding themselves into thinking that they are perfect, is to change the mindset.

So, let's take a step in that direction and disband the CII. When we shut them up we can begin to listen to others who make sense.  

Saima Baig

Saima Baig is a Karachi-based environmental economist, climate change consultant and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter

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