Pakistan’s conservative Islamist party alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), introduced a bill to ban women from appearing in advertisements. The proposed bill seeks to imprison any ad agency that uses women models.
Last week the MMA stopped women’s participation in outdoor sports. In Punjab, hundreds of Islamist demonstrators armed with bamboo sticks blocked a ten kilometer race to protest the female runners, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The race ended in a gun battle that left many wounded.
Women’s rights and human rights advocates are concerned that President Musharraf has not done enough to loosen strict discriminatory religious laws that were instituted under General Ziaul Haq in the 1980s. A local columnist recently wrote that “that mullahs have already gained political power after attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq by capitalizing anti-US sentiments and are now flexing their muscles on social issues to capture the society,” reports the Christian Science Monitor. In what is being described as Taliban-like rules, some areas of the country have instituted strict laws segregating women in schools, banning music, and even preventing male medical technicians from examining women.