A Pakistani Islamic council’s proposed legislation to allow husbands to “lightly beat” their wives to discipline them has ignited a firestorm of protest.
Government officials have called the bill “bizarre.” And a protest campaign going viral under the Twitter hashtag #TryBeatingMeLightly features Pakistani women saying exactly what they think of the proposal.
Vowed one woman defiantly: “#TryBeatingMeLightly, you won’t survive to see the morning.”
The campaign has gone global as woman around the world, including tennis star Martina Navratilova, have hailed and joined this growing protest against misogyny.
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The proposal from the powerful Council of Islamic Ideology, or CII, came in response to a women’s protection law passed by the Punjab government in March that makes it easier for female victims of domestic violence to report abuse, according to the BBC.
CII is a 20-member constitutional body that advises the government on whether laws align with Islam, but its recommendations are not binding, the BBC reports. It does not make laws, and many of its proposals have not been taken seriously by government leaders.
The leader of the CII detailed his group’s proposal — and how wife beatings can be carried out — at a press conference last week.
The bill says a woman can be beaten if she does not wear a hijab, if she interacts with strangers or speaks too loudly, according to CNN. It says only a small stick is necessary to instill fear.
“Hit her in areas where her skin is not too thick and not too thin,” Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani said in Islamabad, according to NBC News.
“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.”
“This is unbelievable,” said Allama Tahir Ashrafi, a former CII member. “So, what is ‘light beating’ and ‘limited violence’? Not chopping off their heads but only, say, burning them in oil?”
Ashrafi told NBC the CII was subverting the very religion it claimed to uphold: “Violence is forbidden by Islam, period.”
“Anyone who’s sane enough wouldn’t be OK with it,” said Rajper.
In protest, Rajper launched a photo series called #TryBeatingMeLightly featuring Pakistani women sounding off on the proposal.
“#TryBeatingMeLightly is an initiative to empower women amongst us who work towards individual and collective betterment,” Rajper wrote on his Facebook page. “It’s an opportunity for those to voice their opinions who can’t or don’t.”
The women he photographed wrote the defiant photo captions themselves.
“Not all men want to ‘lightly beat’ their defying wives ... but just in case they do, these portraits of empowered (and threatening) Pakistani women, serve as fair warning that laying a finger on your wife will have its consequences,” wrote The Express Tribune in Pakistan.
Women around the world supporting the campaign are just as defiant as their Pakistani sisters.