Ms. Amna Rashid's Profile
Amna Rashid is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, and Co-Director Centre for Human Rights and Justice at UMT. She received her LLB from University of London in 2011, and an LLM from Columbia University in 2015. She is a Fulbright Scholar and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar at Columbia School of Law.
Her research interests center on understanding the state of human rights in Pakistan, specifically of women, children and persons with disabilities. She has designed an advocacy strategy to promote and protect the rights of street children (victims of commercial sexual exploitation) in Pakistan and is currently working on advocacy strategies for the protection of rights of persons with disabilities and rights of women. In addition, she is currently researching on consequences of the use of foreign jurisprudence by Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Pakistan, Women Rights and the Clergy – A Case Study of the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016
The state of Pakistan has continuously failed to protect the rights of women. Pakistan is constantly ranked low on the Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum. Women face discrimination in educational institutes, healthcare sector, economic sector as well as their homes. Their educational, economic and social activities are restricted and they are subject to physical and psychological abuse.
The recent Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016 is an effort by the Punjab government to provide relief and protection to victims of domestic abuse. The Act, if properly implemented, will go a long way in protecting women who are victims of domestic abuse at the hands of their families.
The reaction from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and various religious and political parties to this Act is disquieting. CII is a constitutional body tasked with advising the National Assembly or the Provincial Assemblies on religious matters. The status of CII is ambiguous, while CII stresses that its advice is binding on the respective assembly, lawyers and academics argue CII only has an advisory capacity. Nonetheless, the CII managed to steer up a storm. The Act was termed un-Islamic and un-constitutional and the Punjab government was asked to repeal the law.
My paper would first provide a critique on the national framework for the protection of the rights of women in Pakistan. The second part will analyze the criticisms put forward by CII to the recent Punjab Act. Finally, the paper would conclude what impact CII and clergy have on the protection and promotion of the rights of women in Pakistan.