Signature campaign against CII's anti-women recommendations

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Ms. Jahanara M Wattoo, a provincial leader of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and in-charge PPP social media wing Punjab has announced in a protest held today that the PPP has launched a signature campaign against the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII)’s recent legal advice to the legislature regarding the removal of the law banning underage marriage as well as the law regarding the second marriage of a man with the permission of his first wife. The PPP Punjab also appeals to the various civil society groups, women’s organizations, media and human rights groups to join the demonstrations.
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Ms. Jahanara Wattoo has already started an online petition, she requests you to please join the campaign against the CII’s recent anti-women recommendations – give us your support and urge the government and the parliament to not consider these recommendations for amendments in the existing laws.
The petition link:http://www.change.org/petitions/government-of-pakistan-we-call-on-the-supreme-legislative-body-the-parliament-to-adhere-to-their-international-human-rights-obligations-by-not-passing-these-anti-women-recommendations-by-the-cii?recruiter=54359045&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition#
According to the Petition: We call on the supreme legislative body the parliament to adhere to their international human rights obligations by not passing these anti-women recommendations by the CII.
Petition against CII’s anti-women recommendations
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Punjab has started a campaign against the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII)’s recent legal advice to the legislatures regarding the removal of the law banning underage marriage as well as the law regarding the second marriage of a man with the permission of his first wife.
In a meeting chaired by the petitioner/scribe, the PPP Punjab has condemned the Council of Islamic Ideology’s (CII) recommendations for the abolition of laws against underage marriage in the country and decided to launch a movement against these anti-women legal advice to the parliament.
The PPP Punjab, has decided and announced that the party would launch a movement to protest against the anti-women policies of the present PMLN government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s reportedly given approval of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII)’s recent recommendations.
As concerned citizens, we are primarily concerned with the impact that these new proposed recommendations have on the the already miserable condition of the Pakistani women.
We consider the new recommendation by the CII as the culmination of a series of belligerent attempts by the rightest lobby to undo the momentum in women’s equal status and empowerment initiatives taken by the previous PPP government.
In its latest direct onslaught on the women rights, the CII has declared through its recommendations that laws limiting the age of marriage for both the bride and groom were un-Islamic and should be rectified and laws regarding second marriage of a man in the presence of first wife, against religious principles.
However, the existing laws require a man to have written approval from his existing wife for second marriage. Child marriage is a curse all over South Asia. Girls are thus handed over to settle blood feuds, to pay off debts or to seek favours from the powerful.
As par the CII’s advice nikah can take place even at the age of two or three. This precludes the need to seek the girl’s consent. A young girl can be married off to a man double her age if her parents agree. Early marriage is not only a stigma, but also denies the girl child her right to education and freedom of choice as well as health consequences of early marriage are a lot and very dangerous. The health experts say the adolescent girl, is incapable of fully understanding and bearing the burden of pregnancy and childbirth. Moreover, there is an increased risk of malaria, sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer among women who marry early.
The new recommendations are also against the universality of human rights and Pakistan is signatory to international conventions barring child marriage. The recoomends may well legalise and promote child abuse.
The CII observations would also contribute to radicalized the society and further push it towards a male-dominated state.
There are many Islamic scholars who have issued rulings opposing child marriage, highlighting the contractual aspect of Islamic marriage and the fact that minors cannot give consent hence making such marriages prima facie unacceptable.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in a statement has strongly condemned the CII’s recommendations and called upon the government to stand fast in defence of women’s rights. The commission said:
“At a time when the state is trying to deal with a grave threat from extremists posing as religious soldiers and the humanitarian challenges in Thar, Maulana Shirani, the controversial head of the Council of Islamic Ideology, has chosen to fire a broadside at the disadvantaged women of the country. And this right on the morrow of the world-wide celebration of the International Women’s Day.
The edict aimed at giving parents/guardians a license to give away little girls in marriage and freeing men of the need to secure the permission of their first wives before admitting second wives to their harems is nothing short of a vicious attack on women’s and girls’ fundamental rights.
The assumptions underlying the suggestions made by Maulana Shirani and his associates are open to challenge not only on the ground of conflict with the constitution of Pakistan and universal human rights but also for being violative of the spirit of the religion these honourable men claim to follow.
The people have a right to know as to what has made the CII, which had claimed to have completed its scrutiny of all laws quite some time ago, discover flaws in the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961 at this particular moment.
“Quite obviously Maulana Shirani wishes to open a new front against women and to reinforce the militants’ siege of the state. In doing so he has furnished a good reason for a full-scale review of the CII’s functions, it powers, and the justification for its existence.
“The government must not yield to the CII manoeuvre otherwise it will fail in its duly to protect the rights of women, and also undermine its own defences against extremists’ assault on the state’s democratic foundations.”
Let us stand together to protect women rights. Sign this urgent petition now — And help us to stop the bill before it goes to a vote. We will launch and continue a massive campaign until the CII’s recommendations are dumped.
We consider it the retrogressive move and believe that not only the recommendations would snatch the rights and freedoms, whatsoever, women of Pakistan secured through their struggle so far, but it would also undermine their equal status in Pakistan and make them second class citizens.
Stand up for the equal rights of women, and early marriage of girls cannot be tolerated, and the universality of human rights must not be held hostage to these interpretations of religion.
We call on the supreme legislative body the parliament to adhere to their international human rights obligations by not passing these anti-women recommendations by the CII.
We, the undersigned, call on the Government of Pakistan and the parliament to provide equal rights to the female segment of the society and discourage the CII’s anti-women move.
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