Women’s Protection Act

Religious groups demand retraction of “un-Islamic” bill that aims to protect women

Women line up to vote at a polling station in Pakistan. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times)

On Tuesday, an all-parties conference organized by Pakistan’s oldest Islamic political party and attended by powerful religious groups asked the government to retract an “un-Islamic” law that gave unprecedented legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence. The Women’s Protection Act, passed by Pakistan’s largest province of Punjab last month, also called for the creation of a toll-free abuse reporting hotline, women’s shelters, and district-level panels to investigate reports of abuse.

Domestic abuse, economic discrimination, and retaliatory acid attacks made Pakistan the world’s third-most dangerous country in the world for women, a 2011 Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll showed. But on Tuesday, representatives of more than 35 religious parties and group came together for a conference called by the Jamaat-e-Islami party, and, at the conference’s conclusion, issued a joint declaration:  “The controversial law to protect women was promulgated to accomplish the West’s agenda to destroy the family system in Pakistan.”

On Monday, Fazlur Rehman, chief of one of Pakistan’s largest religious parties, the Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam, said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised “to amend the law so that it doesn’t contravene the teachings of the holy Koran.” The declarations, which were only the latest to denounce the bill, further fueled concerns the bill might be retracted.

Read the full story at Reuters.

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