August 11th, 2021
By Hamid Riaz
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has made public its reservations regarding the Domestic Violence Bill 2020. The council has expressed deep concern over the “un-Islamic injunctions” in the bill and has advised the government to rectify it in accordance with the principles of Islam. The Bill had been sent back to the CII even after its passage, amidst severe outcry by opposition parties and civil society organizations. The CII is holding a detailed meeting of its apex body today to finalize suggestions to be made to the government.
Speaking to Voicepk.net the Director-General of Research of the CII Dr. Inamullah stated that “Islam does not support violence in any way or form. And we on principle do not oppose the fact that the government is trying to curb violence in the society but it should not neglect/ignore Islamic injunctions while doing so.”
According to Dr. Inamullah, the definition of violence in the Domestic Abuse Bill is too broad and is prone to be misused.
“The Bill includes emotional and psychological violence in the same category as physical violence. I think adding injunctions like these to the law makes it prone to misuse. For example, if a child does not offer Namaz or does not do her/his homework on time and their father rebukes them for not doing so, then according to this law the father has committed psychological violence against the child and can be subjected to legal action. I think this is tantamount to diminishing the status of the ‘father figure’ in the family, which in turn will erode the institution of the family as a whole. Both our religion and our constitution identifies the family as the fundamental unit of the society which must be protected,” explains Inamullah.
Inamullah also claims that the Bill ‘legitimizes’ extra-marital relationships (boyfriend/girlfriend) by declaring them proper ‘relations’ without clarifying the point further. “Similarly, the Bill forbids the father from infringing upon the privacy of the child under his care also preventing him from following (stalking) his child. I ask you if a father cannot find out what is going on in the life of his children then how will he be able to correctly raise his child. Stalking and infringing privacy in a way is one of the core tenants of good (observant) parenting,” he continues.
While discussing the ‘legal’ loopholes in the law Inamullah points out that the bill is against the universally accepted principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ by allotting too much weightage to the testimony of the victim. “The Bill suggests monetary and other forms of punishments on the accused even before he has a chance to defend himself in front of a neutral body, assuming guilt without proper trial,” concludes Inamullah.
Inamullah’s claim has been ridiculed by legal experts “it is pertinent to note that no place does the law state that the accused will be declared guilty without trial, I don’t know how the CII has reached that conclusion. The Bill provides an ample opportunity of 7 days to the accused to present his point of view,” explains Nida Aly the executive director of the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell.
Inam’s claims have received similar scorn from various other quarters as well. “I fail to understand why a law which had already been passed needed to be sent back to the CII in the first place. This smells of political gimmick on part of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) instead of being a genuine ideological concern,” says Khawar Mumtaz former chairperson of the National Committee on the Status of Women (NCSW).
Responding to claims made by Dr. Inam that the Bill will become a danger to the institution of family the former chair points out that in most cases of domestic violence it is in fact a member of the family who is the main culprit hence it makes complete sense to infringe upon of the excessive authority of male figures of the family. “In the last few months out of the 28 cases of severe gender-based violence I have come across, some 27 cases had a close relative or a family member as the perpetrator of violence, which explains why the bill focuses on this aspect in such detail,”
“Members of the CII must understand that the society has now progressed. Modern societies have modern needs. We should respect a woman’s right to control her own life without the imposition of male guardianship on her,” concludes Khawar Mumtaz.