Gender & Sexuality Opinion Politics Tobin Grant: Corner of Church and State

Pakistan poll: 70% say ‘It’s NEVER permissible for a man to beat his wife& …

The students of Institute of Islamic Sciences in Pakistan study during a library class. Religion News Service photo by Naveed Ahmad

A prominent group of clerics in Pakistan made international headlines today when it advised that is permissible for a husband to “lightly beat” his wife. This report does not reflect the views of most Pakistanis.

The Council of Islamic Ideology is a group of clerics who advise legislators. According to the Washington Post, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) issued the draft of a report advising that beating is sometimes necessary and that a woman should not leave for a shelter if she is being abused.

The CII report may reflect the views of some of the most conservative parts of Islam in Pakistan, but it is out-of-step with how most Pakistanis view spousal abuse.

In 2012, the World Values Survey measured the values and beliefs in over 50 countries, including Pakistan. The survey included ethical questions. One asked whether “a man beating his wife” was always justifiable, never justifiable, or something in between.

The WVS found that 70 percent of Pakistanis said that “a man beating his wife” was never justifiable.  There was no gender differences; both men and women held about the same view.

How does this compare to the USA? Among Americans polled, 80 percent of men and 90 percent of women said beating a wife is never justifiable.

One reason for the opposition to wife beating in Pakistan is its conservative views of sexuality and the family. Researchers Pilar Rodríguez Martínez and Huzefa Khalil used the World Values Survey to study views toward intimate partner violence.

Martínez and Khalil found that people who most tolerant of husbands beating their wives are those that hold a toxic mix of views: they are those who are more tolerant on sexual morality coupled with a belief that women are inferior to men. Those who hold to conservative social views and/or support women’s equality are strongly opposed to this abuse. Martínez and Khalil find this pattern most striking in developing countries.

In Pakistan, women have greater equality than in other predominantly Muslim countries, but significant barriers remain (particularly outside the major cities). There is also a problem with intimate partner violence–saying that wife-beating is wrong does not mean it is rare. A report last month by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan found extensive violence against women in the country despite some marginal advances in women’s equality.

However, the same conservative culture that leads to gender inequality also shapes views for how wives should be treated. Opposition to violence in the home doesn’t just come from those who see men and women as equals. A person who views women as lower than men may still see violence as immoral if the person also holds to other traditional beliefs such as it is the duty of the husband to protect his wife.

The CII is an important and influential part of Pakistan’s political system. But it does not speak for most Pakistanis on this issue.

This blog post includes material from an earlier post on domestic violence and religion.

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About the author

Tobin Grant

@TobinGrant blogs for Religion News Service at Corner of Church and State, a data-driven conversation on religion and politics. He is a political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

6 Comments

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  • Then the 70% are disagreeing with Quran 4:34. This is a good sign!

    But surely the 70% disagreeing with the Quran are not proper Muslims!

    Muslims have nothing to do with Islam, just like the IS.

  • It is because, most Muslims don’t read the quran, hadiths and sunnah in their native language. They just memorize and parrot the Arabic version without understanding a word of what it says.

    Quran

    Quran (4:34)
    – “Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to
    excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are
    therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those
    on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the
    sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way
    against them; surely Allah is High, Great.” Contemporary
    translations sometimes water down the word ‘beat’, but it is the same one used
    in verse

    8:12 and clearly means ‘to strike’.
    Quran (38:44)
    – “And take in your hand a green branch and beat her with it, and do not
    break your oath…” Allah telling Job to beat his wife (Tafsir).

  • Another Muslim apologist. Read the Pew survey and see just how enlightened Pakastani Muslims are.

  • 20% of American men believe it IS justifiable to beat one’s wife/partner/spouse!?! That is heinous! What is wrong with those animals?

    Okay, I’m not good at math, so check my figures please.
    300,000,000 Americans. 20% is 6,000,000. If half of them are men, that means 3,000,000 American men think it’s okay to beat their intimate partner.

    Is that right?

  • Yes, I have heard that few Muslims know the meaning of their parroted Arabic words. It is important that Quranic tones and messages are exposed.

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