Our religious leaders, supposedly chosen by the people for their wisdom in knowledge of all matters religious, have disappointed us yet again.

Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman denounced the anti-domestic violence bill passed in Punjab. Not only that, but in a supreme show of misogyny, questioned the Chief Minister’s masculinity for allowing the bill to pass. Fazl-ur-Rehman’s words reflect his ignorance of the horrors faced by women in this country. For him, it is acceptable for women to get attacked, raped, beaten or confined to the house, only as long as men continue to enjoy the freedom to oppress one half of society. If we are to work on his twisted logic, then the extension of his argument extends to not providing women the basic freedom of movement; to not allow them to work or even leave their homes.

Using religion in attempts to preserve the patriarchal system is tantamount to insulting the belief system of all the women who believe in Islam as well. The religion he professes to believe in is the same one that tells men to respect the rights of women in all circumstances, and yet we don’t see him jumping off his seat to castigate those that abuse both within the confines of the home and beyond. This duplicitous behaviour does not suit a religious leader; and yet this is exactly the sort of reaction we have come to expect from our self-proclaimed spiritual leaders.

The family structure that JUI-F has chosen to stand by is the sort that has led to countless child marriages, instances of honour killings, rape and the rise of practices such as Vani, where young girls are traded by feuding families as a blood price. The family structure is inherently flawed if it exploits one sex in favour of the other and needs complete redressal. Rehman also claimed that the government had no right to intrude upon the personal lives of its citizens in this way. Asking for the government to step off when it concerns protecting the fundamental rights of women while asking for more religious injunctions at the same time - which, on principle intend to intrude upon the personal lives of citizens - is contradictory in the extreme. Fazl-ur-Rehman is advised to attempt to place himself in the shoes of any woman in the country, who will undoubtedly have more restrictions placed on her than any man. Considering men like him have such an issue with not having the option of being able to beat women when they chooses to, he won’t last too long.