Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2016
For the first time in the country’s history, a detailed bill for the protection of women was passed into a law on 2nd February, 2016. It declares all forms of violence against women as criminal acts. The first case registered under this law is of a woman in Lahore who was repeatedly abused by her husband. Her four year old son was also affected by these acts of violence. While it is difficult to ascertain data about violence and crime against women, it is reported that Punjab has the highest number of such cases in the country.
This bill received criticisms from various entities. According to Maulana Sherani, the women’s protection bill has been passed in violation of the Constitution as well as against the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah. He further added that the Council of Islamic Ideology had not been consulted and the law had been passed in haste.
In fact other religious parties were also against this bill. Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl is of the perspective that this bill is going to destroy the family system in our country and promote the divorce rate. It is going to put bangles on men like ‘trackers’, he said. Members of the Punjab Assembly have asked him for an apology based on his remarks.
On the other hand, Salman Sufi, a senior member of the CM’s Law and Order Unit has reportedly said that all concerned parties were consulted and informed before this bill was passed. It was laid down in May 2015 and a dedicated committee was formed to work on it. Since then eight amendments and revisions had been made to the bill before all parties finally agreed upon it. It has been due to several months of work and thoughtful consideration for all involved that this bill was passed.
This bill comes as a welcome move as Pakistan is currently ranked as the third most dangerous country for women. It covers protection of women against crimes which are on a rise in the country. Precisely it focuses on crimes of domestic, psychological, economic and emotional abuse, stalking, cybercrime as well as abetment of offences against women.
This bill saves women from the tedious task of waiting for justice. Firstly it provides them a hotline where they can place their complaints. Female officers are also being appointed to support them. Secondly, they would be duly compensated in monetary terms by the abuser. Thirdly those who will obstruct justice in this regard will be fined and awarded jail time. But if the complaints are false, then the complainant could also be fined and sentenced for a certain period of time.
Women rights activists supported this bill. While this bill is indeed commendable, it still lacks protection for children and the old. Also it is yet to be seen whether the implementation of this bill would be as powerful as its content. Thorough implementation and management is equally needed.
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