Two Sides of the Same Coin: Islamists & Practioners of Hindutva Share a Worldview of Wife Beating

Every theocratic state needs religious boosters to survive as a totalitarian state. It can be seen regularly happening in Pakistan. It came into being on August 14, 1947 as an Islamic State but the first formal dictator General Ayub Khan (1958-69) realised that Pakistan needed a booster dose of Islamism so many of the democratic rights of women and minorities, both religious and linguistic, were curtailed.
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the worst dictator (1978-88) declared that Pakistan, already an Islamic state, would be governed under 'Nizam-e-Mustafa' (Rule of the Prophet). Though fond of 'nautch' he introduced high octane Islamic laws making life in Pakistan a living hell for women and traditional minorities like Christians, Hindus, Shias and Ahmedyas.
Interestingly, the dreaded Blasphemy Laws followed by Zia were introduced by a so called democratically elected ruler, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1971-77). Bhutto introduced the Hudood Laws that, in the eyes of the law and state, turned women and minorities into sub-human beings. Democratically elected ruler Benazir Bhutto (1988–90 and 1993–96) also adhered to Islamism and continued giving booster dozes of Islam to the Pakistani state. In a framework of an Islamic theocratic state they all played their pre-destined role.

This process is still on as a natural corollary of the formation of a theocratic state in Pakistan. The latest booster dose of Islamism is in the form of a demand by an official religious agency that articulates that Muslim males should be allowed to thrash their wives.

This outrageous demand has appeared in a document titled, ironically as the 'Women Protection Bill'. According to a recent press report, "The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has proposed its own Women Protection Bill, recommending ‘a light beating’ for the wife if she defies her husband.

The council has proposed that a husband should be allowed to ‘lightly’ beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires, turns down the demand of intercourse without any religious excuse or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods. It further suggests that beating is also permissible if a woman does not observe Hijab, interacts with strangers, speaks loud enough that she can easily be heard by strangers and provides monetary support to the people without taking consent of her spouse".[i]

You are grossly mistaken if you believe that it is happening in Pakistan, a theocratic state, alone. Organisations wedded to the Hindutva worldview,  working zealously to convert India into a Hindu theocratic state have been supporting bashing of Hindu women, albeit in a more subtle and organised manner.

The largest organization in the world to circulate literature on the Hindu way of life has these popular title both in English and Hindi namely 'How to lead a Household Life' and 'Grahsth Mein Kaise Rahen' by Swami Ramsukhdas. This book is in a question-answer format and is a kind of Guide Book for to imbibe and practice the Hindu way of life.

A question is posed: “What should the wife do if her husband beats her and troubles her?”[ii] Swami Ramsukhdas offers the following sagely advice to the battered wife and her parents: "The wife should think that she is paying her debt of her previous life and thus her sins are being destroyed and she is becoming pure. When her parents come to know this, they can take her to their own house because they have not given their daughter to face this sort of bad behaviour."[iii]

And if her parents do not take her to their house, learned Swamiji’s pious advice is: "Under such circumstances…she should reap the fruit of her past actions. She should patiently bear the beatings of her husband with patience. By bearing them she will be free from her sins and it is possible that her husband may start loving her."[iv]
This book came out in 1990 and so far has had 50 editions both in Hindi and English with 1.2 million copies circulated. Interestingly, it is the most popular title with non-resident Indians (NRIs). The publishers of this book has more than 10 other titles on Women and these books are sold from hundreds of outlets including 110 railway stations where the Geeta Press has been provided stalls free of charge by the central government. The allotments were first allowed by Kamlapati Tripathi in 1970s when he was railway minister for many years in Indira Gandhi cabinet. Such books are also available at RSS run book stalls.
The Hindutva fraternity, functioning within the largest democracy in the world, is thus, far ahead in propagating wife beating in comparison to the Islamists in Pakistan.
Islamists and practitioners of Hindutva may appear to be indulging all kinds of rhetoric against each other but fact is that they together remain committed to a rare commonality of interests as far the status and treatment of their own women are concerned. Both seem to have studied, and propagate an anti-woman worldview. And this, as far as Indian is concerned, within an egalitarian polity that ‘allows’ such demeaning ‘Guides’ for women.
(The writer is an academician and can be followed on @shamsforjustice)

[i]Wife=Beating:This 'women Protection Bill' also contains many other brazenly sadist demands against women.
[ii] Ramsukhdass, Swami, How to Lead a Household Life, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, 2001, p. 43.



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