ISLAMABAD - The National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) and Women 's Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) have expressed grave concern over the recent recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), believing that its recent verdicts are blatant violations of women rights , international commitments and the constitution of Pakistan.
NCSW Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz in a statement voiced concerns over the recent recommendations of the CII that the laws related to minimum age of marriage were un-Islamic and that children of any age could get marry if they attain puberty; and that permission of first wife for contracting second marriage by the husband was against the tenets of Islam.
She pointed out that the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 was promulgated after serious and in-depth deliberations by an eminent committee representing all schools of Islamic thought. "The committee reviewed personal status laws of other Muslim countries in the light of contemporary conditions and challenges and then made its recommendations in keeping with the spirit of justice and fairness," she said.
Khawar called upon CII to give attention to curbing practices like vani , swara and karo kari and ensure that women get their due constitutional rights instead of unnecessarily reopening settled matters.
She drew CII 's attention towards the fact that marriages in Islam are contracts between two consenting adults and any recommendation that violates that basic principle is not acceptable. Furthermore it has been medically established that early age marriages have far-reaching damaging consequences for the health of young girls and their children and therefore they must be avoided at all costs.
She added that CII 's opinion was also in contradiction with Pakistan's international commitments. Khawar recalled that Pakistan was signatory of CEDAW that provided for the prohibition of child marriage in article 16.3. "The convention contains a provision calling for the abolishment of practices prejudicial to the health and future of children," she said, adding, "Child marriage is connected with child rights , such as the right to protection from all forms of abuse, and the right to be protected from harmful practices . More pressing in Pakistan is the forcible marriage of girls to resolve family feuds which is a gross violation of human rights and CII should focus its attention on this subject," she said.
Members of WPC also termed the recommendations of CII quite alarming . "It should be noted that the law is completely in line with the Muslim family law and the constitution of Pakistan," they said.
It can be witnessed that instances of domestic violence are on the rise, women are forced to self-immolations, rape cases and acid crimes have increased significantly and the child abuses have reached alarming heights, so in the present scenario decrees of such controversial nature by CII do no good but aggravate the situation.
Marriage is a mutual contract; adolescents at an early age cannot discreetly decide about their marriage, therefore puberty should not be a condition for marriage. Abolishing laws, which ensure minimum age for marriage, would mean exploitation and abuse, particularly for young girls.
Members of the Women 's Parliamentary Caucus believed that both these verdicts were a blatant violation of women rights , international commitments and the constitution of Pakistan. It stressed that inclusion of progressive Islamic scholars in the CII was important so that it interpreted laws in line with the 21st century for protection of women rights and of whole nation at large.
"Parliament of Pakistan is the supreme institution. Women legislators from the platform of Caucus reaffirm their commitment to stand firm against all anti-women practices and are determined to leave no stone unturned to ensure that no anti-women legislation is passed in the parliament," they said.