A legislation that would allow husbands lightly beat their wives who decline them sex or refuse to wear what their mates prefer has been proposed in Pakistan by the Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body.

The Council of Islamic Ideology says it has to finalize the 160-page draft before it is sent to lawmakers in the Punjab province, for approval.

The bill advocates the use of “limited violence” by men on spouses who do not bathe after intercourse or during menstruation.

The bill also provides that if a wife disobeys her husband, the husband is to talk to her first. If that doesn’t work, he should sleep separately. Violence according to the document is the last resort.

Guidelines on how to inflict the beatings are provided in the legislation; “hit her in areas where her skin is not too thick and not too thin,”. This was revealed by the Council leader, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani at a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday.

“Do not use shoes or a broom on the head, or hit her on the nose or eyes. Do not break any bones or cut her skin or leave any marks. Do not hit her vindictively, but only for reminding her about her religious duties” he added.

Though this Council cannot make laws, it can, as it has done, give suggestions to Pakistan’s government and parliament.

This proposal has sparked outrage inside the country.

Allama Tahir Ashrafi, a former member of the Council called it unbelievable and said, “so, what is ‘light beating’ and ‘limited violence’? Not chopping off their heads but only, say, burning them in oil?”

He explained that the council should be speaking “about rape, about the increasing divorce rate, about suicide bombing — but they avoid these issues.”

Gender equality is a big problem in Pakistan. Women face significant challenges in the society, economy, judicial system, workplace, marriage and other policy designated spheres.

Prior to the Council’s bill, Pakistan’s Punjab province pushed for a progressive gender-equality law called the Protection of Women Against Violence Act which seeks to give women more rights, including fitting violent husbands with electronic tracking bracelets.

The Council, rejected that bill as “un-Islamic,” and proposed its own document instead.

Other features of the bill include:

– A bar on women from nursing male patients in hospital unless it is their husband, son, brother or father.

– Women are to be allowed to inherit property and given protection from being kicked out of their houses if their husband dies without a will.

– Women should not be subjected to forced marriage, acid attacks or honor killing.

– Beatings are to be administered on any woman who does not wear a hijab.

– Beatings are to be administered on any woman who gives money to other people without her husband’s permission, and talks loudly so the neighbors can hear.

– Women would also be forced to breastfeed their kids for two years and banned from using contraception without their husband’s permission.

Author: Ope Adedeji