A powerful Pakistani religious body that advises the government and the parliament on Islamic matters has declared a new law that criminalizes violence against women to be "un-Islamic."
Muhammad Khan Sherani, the head of the Council of Islamic Ideology, said on March 3 that women’s rights were already secured by Shari'a law.
Many conservative clerics and religious parties have criticized the law passed by the province of Punjab last week as being in conflict with the Koran and Pakistan's constitution.
The Women's Protection Act provides unprecedented legal protection to women from domestic, psychological, and sexual violence, and calls for the creation of an abuse reporting hotline and the establishment of women's shelters.
More than 5,800 cases of violence against women were reported in 2013 in Punjab alone, according to a women's rights advocacy group.