End controversy on women protection bill

WOMEN protection law recently enacted by the Punjab government generated heated debate and discussion amongst different segments of the society. Though the provincial government was scoffed at and showered with ridicule, it was a welcome debate in the sense that it provided an opportunity to the society on the whole to discuss the pros and cons of the law in threadbare.
In our view, general discourse is the right path to bring in effective legislation. Before passing any act, the document should be put before different segments of society for their inputs as it could help fine-tune the draft to the maximum. As regards the Punjab government’s women protection bill, some religious circles denounced it declaring it contrary to Islamic injunctions. However, the provincial government adopted the right course by holding a meeting with the Ulema of all schools of thoughts to remove their concerns and apprehensions regarding the act which declares physical violence, stalking, abusive language etc against women a crime. The meeting come out with a Fatwa declaring in categorical terms that the legislation is not against Shariah. In our view, there is now no justification to continue the smear campaign against this important act, which is a right step towards protecting the dignity and self-respect of women. Islam does not allow any form of violence rather it has given an elevated status to women. Therefore any step taken towards their empowerment and protection should not be politicised as they constitute half of the population and their participation in all walks of life is critical for socio-economic uplift of the country. In many Islamic countries including Malaysia and Turkey, women are working shoulder to shoulder with men for the development of their countries yet in our country resistance against participation of women would not serve any purpose for the forward march of the country. We expect this controversy to come to an end and that other provincial governments would also follow suit and pass legislations to stop any excesses against women.

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