Pakistan advisory body suggests men 'lightly beat' wives who refuse sex

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A powerful constitutional body in Pakistan proposed legislation last week that would allow husbands to "lightly beat" their wives who decline sex or refuse to wear what their mates prefer.

The Council of Islamic Ideology says it has to finalize the 160-page draft before it is sent to lawmakers in the Punjab province, the country's most populated region, for approval.

As well as beatings for wives who decline to have sex with their husbands, the document also advocates men use "limited violence" on spouses who do not bathe after intercourse or during menstruation.

See the many struggles women living in Pakistan face:

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Pakistan advisory body suggests men 'lightly beat' wives who refuse sex
In this photo taken on Jan. 27, 2016, Sidra Kamwal shows pictures of herself before she was disfigured in an acid attack in Karachi, Pakistan. She had left her abusive husband and moved back in with her mother when another man proposed to her. The man refused to take no for an answer. He pestered her and harassed her. And then one day he told her that if couldnât have her, no one could, and threw acid in her face.(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this photo taken on Jan. 27, 2016, Pakistani acid victim Sidra Kamwal looks herself in a mirror in Karachi, Pakistan. Sidraâs attacker is in jail, but his family has been embraced by the neighbors. The family jeers at her, and the neighbors applaud. Sidra, with her painfully disfigured face, is the outcast.(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this photo taken on Jan. 27, 2016, Pakistan's provincial assembly in session in Karachi, Pakistan. Pakistani lawmaker Mahtab Akbar Rashdi said the federal government by refusing to ban underage marriages is pandering to those who adhere to a narrow and restrictive interpretation of Islam and mostly target women. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this photo taken on Jan. 26, 2016, Kainaat Soomro weeps during an interview with The Associated Press in Karachi, Pakistan. She was 13 years old and on her way to buy a toy for her newborn niece when three men kidnapped her, held her for several days and repeatedly raped her. Eight years later, she is still battling for justice. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this photo taken on Jan. 26, 2016, Pakistani human rights activist Uzma Noorani talks to the Associated Press in Karachi, Pakistan. Noorani says rights activists are waging a war for change in Pakistan and occasionally battles are won. Some provinces, like southern Sindh of which Karachi is the capital, has passed legislation aimed at protecting women and banning underage marriages.(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this photo taken on Jan. 26, 2016, Azra talks to The Associated press about in Karachi, Pakistan. When Azra was 18, her family sold her for $5000 to an older man who passed her around to strangers. She ran away, and now she is fighting for a divorce and too afraid to leave the shelterâs walls. The court have yet to decide on her case and mostly Azra _ who is just 20 and gave only her first name _ wonders where she will go when the time comes to leave the shelter. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this photo taken on Jan. 26, 2016, Kainaat Soomro sits in her home in Karachi, Pakistan. When she describes the horror of her captivity and rape at the age of 13, her voice is barely a whisper, but it gains strength when she talks of the fight she has been waging: going to Pakistanâs courts, holding protests, rejecting the rulings of the traditional Jirga council, taking on the powerful landlord and politician who she says are protecting her attackers.(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this photo taken on Jan. 27, 2016, Pakistani lawmaker Mahtab Akbar Rashdi talks to the Associated Press in Karachi, Pakistan. Rashdi said the federal government by refusing to ban underage marriages is pandering to those who adhere to a narrow and restrictive interpretation of Islam and mostly target women. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this photo taken on Jan. 26, 2016, Azra talks to The Associated press about in Karachi, Pakistan. When Azra was 18, her family sold her for $5000 to an older man who passed her around to strangers. She ran away, and now she is fighting for a divorce and too afraid to leave the shelterâs walls. The court have yet to decide on her case and mostly Azra _ who is just 20 and gave only her first name _ wonders where she will go when the time comes to leave the shelter. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
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The council — known as CII — went so far as to provide guidelines on how to inflict the beatings.

"Hit her in areas where her skin is not too thick and not too thin," CII leader Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani told a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday. "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," he added. "Do not hit her vindictively, but only for reminding her about her religious duties."

The CII cannot make laws itself but gives suggestions to Pakistan's government and parliament.

Already, the proposal has sparked outrage inside the country.

"This is unbelievable," said Allama Tahir Ashrafi, a former member of the CII who resigned for what he called religious regions. "So, what is 'light beating' and 'limited violence'? Not chopping off their heads but only, say, burning them in oil?"

Ashrafi is now leader of the 110,000-member Pakistani Religious Scholars Council, a group of mullahs who debate Islam and preach.

He told NBC News the CII was subverting the very religion it claimed to uphold: "Violence is forbidden by Islam, period."

He said the council should be speaking "about rape, about the increasing divorce rate, about suicide bombing — but they avoid these issues."

Others have questioned the practicality of the proposals.

"Will the Maulana [religious scholar] observe every beating himself, personally?" said Rana Sanaullah, the Punjab province law minister, in another press conference in Lahore. "How will he ensure that 'light beating' doesn't become 'heavy beating'."

The draft bill has a step-by-step guide on how to administer these beatings. If a wife disobeys her husband, according to the document, the husband should try to talk to her. If that doesn't work, he should sleep separately and only finally use violence as a last resort.

The CII suggests that any man who doesn't follow that process should be prosecuted.

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Pakistan was the first Islamic country to elect a woman to high office, with Benazir Bhutto serving as prime minister in the 80s and 90s before her assassination in 2007. However it consistently ranks as one of the world's worst countries for female employment and education.

More than 1,000 "honor killings" were carried out in Pakistan last year, a practice where women are murdered by their own relatives if they are seen as bringing "dishonor" on their families.

The CII's proposal was in response to an unconventionally liberal move by Pakistan's Punjab province, which pushed for a progressive gender-equality law called the Protection of Women Against Violence Act. The act sought to give women more rights, including fitting violent husbands with electronic tracking bracelets.

Rejecting that bill as "un-Islamic," the CII proposed its own document instead. The CII's draft bill has to be finalized by the council before it is sent to the provincial legislature for approval.

In addition to the beatings, it also seeks to ban women from several aspects of society.

Female co-eds? Nope, not after primary school. Women joining combat squads in the armed forces? That would be out too — a far more conservative approach than the country's air force, which has started training women to be fighter pilots.

Women also would be barred for nursing male patients in hospital unless it is their husband, son, brother or father.

Related: Sister Says Husband Stoned Wife in 'Honor Killing'

The proposal does make some paltry concessions for the female population. It says they should be allowed to inherit property and given protection from being kicked out of their houses if their husband dies without a will. Women should not be subjected to forced marriage, acid attacks or honor killings, the draft also states.

Still, the list of punishable offenses goes on. The draft said beatings also should be administered to any woman who does not wear a hijab, gives money to other people without her husband's permission, and talks loudly so the neighbors can hear.

Women would also be forced to breastfeed their kids for two years and banned from using contraception without their husband's permission.

"Disgusting," human-rights lawyer Asma Jahangir said in an interview with Pakistani television this week. "But we shouldn't be worried. The women of Pakistan know how to protect themselves."

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