ISLAMABAD - Council of Islamic Ideology yesterday declared the Protection of Women Act, 2016, passed by the Punjab Assembly last month as un-Islamic.“The whole law is wrong,” CII Chairman Muhammad Khan Sherani told a press conference after a thorough clause-wise review of the law during a lengthy meeting. The CII chairman cited verses from the holy Quran to point out that the law was ‘un-Islamic’.

The Women’s Protection Act, passed in the Punjab Assembly last week, gives unprecedented legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence. It also calls for the creation of a toll-free abuse reporting hotline and the establishment of women’s shelters.

In 2013, more than 5,800 cases of violence against women were reported in Punjab, the province where Wednesday’s law was passed, according to Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights advocacy group.

Those cases represented 74 percent of the total that year in the country. But since its passage in the assembly, many conservative clerics and religious leaders have denounced the new law as being in conflict with the Quran as well as the Constitution.

The CII has firmed up recommendations for the government that the law passed by the Punjab Assembly has no compatibility with the Islamic laws, so it should be withdrawn.

Earlier, speaking to journalists in Shikarpur on Wednesday, Maulana Sherani had said he could not comment on the Women's Protection Bill passed by the Punjab Assembly before examining it. However, he termed it a violation of Islamic laws and said it could not be accepted.

He said the assemblies must consult the CII before enacting such laws. “The CII is a constitutional body, so every bill should be brought to Parliament in the light of its recommendations,” he asserted. But the present government avoided doing so in violation of the provisions of the Constitution. He recalled the government of General Ziaul Haq adhered to the recommendations of the CII.

Fazlur Rehman, chief of JUI-F, one of the largest religious parties, said the law was in conflict with both Islam and the constitution of Pakistan. “This law makes men insecure,” he told journalists. “This law is an attempt to make Pakistan a Western colony again,” he averred.

Reuters adds: The 54-year-old council is known for its controversial decisions. In the past it has ruled that DNA cannot be used as primary evidence in rape cases, and it supported a law that requires women to get four male witnesses to testify in court before a case is heard.

The council’s decision this January to block a bill to impose harsher penalties for marrying girls as young as eight or nine has angered human rights activists.

The new law establishes district-level panels to investigate reports of abuse and mandates the use of GPS bracelets to keep track of offenders.

It also sets punishments of up to a year in jail for violators of court orders related to domestic violence, with that period rising to two years for repeat offenders.