Hard-line, right-wing Islamic extremists across Pakistan have rallied together in protest to reclaim the right to abuse and kill their wives and daughters. The country has finally taken a progressive step forward on gender equality, but some men still believe the mistreatment of women is their divine, God-given right.
The controversy began when the Pakistani government introduced the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill, which effectively criminalizes violence against women in Punjab — the country’s most populous region. Before the law was officially enacted on March 1, diehard extremists attempted to block the legislation, saying it would “destroy the family system in Pakistan” and “add to the miseries of women”.
The bill was passed unanimously by the Punjab Assembly, and opponents have since warned of ongoing protests if it is not repealed. The Protection of Women Against Violence Bill criminalizes any and every form of abuse by men against women, whether it be domestic, emotional, psychological or done through stalking and cybercrime.
It provides for a network of shelters or safe houses where women who have fled violence can seek counselling and financial and medical aid.It also conceives a universal, toll-free, 24/7 telephone number women can call in order to report abuse.
In special circumstances, offenders may be monitored by wearing a bracelet with a GPS monitor, and will be restricted from making gun purchases.The bill was drawn up in 2015 by the political party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It was a surprise to many in the population, as the party has gained a reputation for pandering to right-wing religious groups.