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Women’s rights and clerics
Updated:Aug 22, 2017
 
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After outrage across India over the case of marriage of an underage girl to an elderly man in Oman in exchange for 500,000 Indian rupees, authorities in Indian city of Hyderabad have announced that mosques have started coming out in support of a campaign against child marriage.
 
This development is a breath of fresh air and can certainly be helpful in making the campaign a success.
 
Majority of minor Indian girls sold to rich Arab nationals are said to be from poor families lacking resources to provide for their children. Reportedly, local mosques and clerics of the area have been helping these families sell their daughters in marriage. Therefore, the support of mosques in Hyderabad in eradicating this criminal practice will most likely make a difference. At the same time, we cannot help but think that such acts of violence against women and young girls are also prevalent on our side of the border. But the clerics and their institutions here have never become a part of efforts to eradicate such criminal practices.
 
On the contrary, Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) — that had been established to oversee legislations in view of Islamic principles — has instead encouraged child marriage on several occasions. It also opposed a bill against the practice calling it ‘contrary to Shariah’. The CII is known for its anti-women pronouncement including the one where it said that Islam allows husbands to ‘lightly beat’ wives. The body mainly discusses women-related issues but never has it come up with something positive for women’s wellbeing and the council members only dictate what women should and shouldn’t do. This should change now. We urge Pakistan’s religious establishment to stop justifying these criminal practices and endorse awareness campaigns to raise voice against various forms of violence against women prevalent in the country.
 
 
 
 
 
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