The Dawn newspaper, Pakistan’s leading English language daily, reported recently that The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has declared the term ‘gender equality’ ‘vague and un-Islamic’ and called for its repeal. You can see the original piece here.
The council argued that the concept of ‘gender equality’ was impractical because of ‘distinct differences’ in anatomy and physical and mental capabilities. The CII described the term as ‘absurd and un-Islamic’.
I will not even raise the point about the validity and legality of a Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) reviewing and recommending changes to the constitution in a citizen’s democracy, however crippled and constrained it may be in Pakistan.
I will not even raise the issue about how this council of ‘learned’ men (there is one woman member of this council of 9 I believe) determined that a woman’s ‘mental capabilities’ are distinctly different (i can’t help but suspect that they meant to say ‘less’) from that of a man.
I will only point out to this group of ‘learned’ men that ‘gender equality’ is not a declaration of a woman’s physical and mental equality with a man, but in fact a demand for equal rights, equal protections and equal freedoms under the law. These rights are to be bestowed regardless of physical, mental, and any other ‘difference’. They have little or nothing to do with the fact that a woman is anatomically or mentally different from a man, though again, how they figured out the latter confounds me.
That this body of men, many with long and intimidatingly impressive resumes, don’t understand this simple difference is dismaying.
That this body uses some interpretation of ‘Islam’ as a weapon to further diminish the rights of the weak is quite pathetic.
Ironically this council has never found military dictatorships as ‘un-Islamic’. Neither have they in their infinite Islamic wisdom made statements about state use of torture, disappearences, summary executions, dispossession of the landless, or on government graft and corruption. It seems not to have thought it ‘un-Islamic’ that innocents are murdered, that our legal system is corrupt and dysfunctional, that the ordinary man and woman in Pakistan remains devoid of legal and judicial protection. It has not found acid attacks, honor killings, police brutality, ‘un-Islamic’, or the killings of the country’s Baluchi or tribal area citizens by the Pakistan Army and police forces as ‘un-Islamic’.
Our constitution is used and abused almost daily by self-serving criminals in political garb, but the CII has remained politely tolerant of these mutations, focusing instead on the culture threatening implications of the term ‘gender equality’!
They fill their resumes with long lists of qualifications, certificates and degrees, and yet find ways to remain so supremely stupid. It is quite an achievement.
Note: I did not realize that Pakistan had such a body looking into matters of whether Pakistan’s constitution met with the standards of the Koran and/or the Sunna. It seems to be a child of the Ayub Khan military government and was entered into the 1962 constitution as an ‘advisory’ body whose members were selected by the President.
Note: An editorial in the same newspaper expressing outrage can be read here