Before the advent of Islam, in primitive Arab societies women were treated subserviently to men. Their existence as the opposite gender had no meaning, dealt with as a slave or an exchange commodity in trade. Soon after the emergence of Islam, however, women’s status was upgraded. They were granted equal rights, opportunities and freedom to live just like the Arab men. Furthermore, they were no more degraded or buried alive as an infant, but in fact were honoured and respected. As well as putting an end to the ill treatment of women, Islam also introduced the same practice for slaves and animals. Of all religions revealed, Islam is the only religion that denotes a code of life.

Though Islam has been in practice since its emergence, till present day women’s are ill treated by the opposite gender in Muslim countries. Although we are living in the 21st century, talking about innovation and advancement, yet the matter of the fact remains that our ignorance towards women existence is similar to those of Stone Ages.  The misogynist lawmakers though pretend to be an emblem of justice, in reality they failed to grant fundamental rights to women. Somehow, Arabian Peninsula seems to be a cage for Muslim women. Having said that, women in the Arabian region lack the right of marriage, vote, freedom to live. Islam never curtailed women’s right, though raised her status in society as a mother, sister, and wife. A  religion that projects betterment of humanity and has always been enlightening the spirit of equality in both the gender can never be against it.

Unfortunately, since ages, religion has always been dominated by culture; both are tied intricately. That is the reason why still some malpractices are found in our societies. Millennia’s ago, before Islam arrived in southeast Asia, a norm called as ‘Sati’ was commonly in practice among the Hindu communities in which women either voluntarily or by coercion commits suicide upon knowing her husband’s death. The best-known form of ‘Sati’ is when a woman is burnt alive along with her husband’s funeral. Such practices continued and are still found among some Indians. Hindu culture has always given men an upper hand on women. They are meant to look after their house, do household chores and at the end be obedient to men, no matter how bad a man would respond in return. Some of these norms continued through the centuries and are even found at present.

However, in this era where states are governed by rule of law, women are still looked upon as an underprivileged gender in our societies; lacking basic rights and freedom of expression. 

In Saudi Arabia though, women have no rights in society, however, within their four walls, they are enjoying a luxurious life that is barely seen in any other Muslim country, depicting the enforcement true Islamic values. Women at home are not obliged to do household chores, feed their infants or any related task. Unless, they willingly do it or are paid for it but to the contrary, women in Arabia have to abide by harsh customs that prohibit them to live along their sons, once the son reaches the age of puberty. A relation that is defined the most purest of all, not by men but by ALLAH himself.

The aforementioned norm provides an unintentional opportunity to non-believers; to speak false about Islam and raise disputed questions against its teachings. However, in reality, Islam, since its emergence, went against such malpractices that are still continued in some Arab societies.

Furthermore, the consent of women in Islamic marriage is one of the main provision; neglecting it means nullification of the marriage contract but unfortunately young maiden girls are offered to men, quadruple of their ages without due consent. Recently, a women rights revolution hit the Pakistani society in which an active participation by the lawmakers of the Punjab assembly, along with few non-governmental organizations, were seen on the forefront. This effort led the resolution to be passed by Punjab assembly, bringing in action the Punjab protection of women’s against violence act 2016. 

According to this bill, females at their working places will feel safer than in the past. No employer can dare to harass, sexually abuse or could no more be subject to beating by the hands of her husband at home. Though we already have women protection act 2006 in place, but it is of no use. The newly enacted Act specifically deals with the protection of women that will make police forces more receptive to specific problems and laws that address violence against women. Women of all ages found this bill re-assuring but to our national clerics and few political parties, who found it repulsive and to whom it emerged as an anti-Islamic act. Hence, some of them issued contrarian judgments. 

According to Maulana Sherani, the chairman  Council for Islamic Ideology (CII), “The clauses in this bill will eventually lead to the break-up of society,”. Sherani wants the bill’s lawmakers to be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution, which deals with “high treason.” Whereas Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) Chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman believes that the law will hamper a family’s privacy. According to their understanding, beating a wife is permissible in Islam as long as it may not leave a mark on her body.

It is not long ago prior to this bill that women in Punjab were molested at the working places or while traveling through the public transports. Every day in Punjab, at least six women are murdered or face a murder attempt; at least eight women are raped, another 11 assaulted, and 32 abducted for various reasons, according to a report published by the Law and order wing of the Special Monitoring Unit (SMU). It was not until when Pakistan came in the top list of countries in women acid victims. Women victimization and honor killings were also on the rise. As recently, we could see the honor killing of famous Pakistani model and social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch by none other than her own brother, whom she financially supported throughout her career. At present, Pakistan ranks as the third most dangerous country for women to live in. 

Despite of  the newly enacted Punjab  women’s protection bill , many of the afore-mentioned  infringement of rights and ill-treatments  continue in our society. Though, major developments such as women protection bills have taken place in our legal system and hence molded societal structure, but women still find herself, as a weaker gender. This ostensibly establishes a truth that Pakistani women’s have manage to live a life that is full of compromise .Now it is the time, where the law enforcement agencies and civil societies must take an action against the male chauvinist societies found in our country .These actions will not hamper the lives of a family but  in turn will bring a revolution in our society and forth coming generations . 

The writer is doing LLB(Hons) shariah and law from International Islamic University Islamabad .