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Women protection law wins acclaim


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LAHORE: People from all walks of life have welcomed the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Bill passage in the Punjab Assembly, with some of them criticising the MPAs “who objected to certain clauses”.

The Bill was passed on Wednesday after remaining pending since May 2015.

One PPP MPA who sat through the assembly session was Faiza Malik, who herself had moved a Domestic Violence Bill in 2012, which differed in the sense that it aimed to protect all vulnerable persons living under the same roof. These included domestic help, children and elderly persons. However, these are not included in the current bill.

Ms Malik fully supported the bill that came through the Social Welfare Department.

“The Bill is originally drafted by Salman Sufi who launched a ‘Violence against Women Centre’ (VAWC) in Multan, where the idea is to have protection and rehabilitation of the women survivors or victims under one roof, including medical counseling and checkups, police procedures and also basic legal documentation,” she said.

She said “the men in the assembly, especially from the PTI, were the most to cause an issue.” “They were of the view that the bill would cause domestic and family problems, and would interfere with personal issues. They also said divorce rates would go up. It is unbelievable the kind of attitude we have among lawmakers. One male MPA even said to me that religion allows women to be beaten up and that she has no right to let the news out of the house.”

When asked why other PPP MPAs did not appear, she said most lived out of Lahore and were usually absent, and said many other party members were also not present. From the PPP she and Mian Khurram Jahangir Wattoo were the only ones present. She specified that the members were not told beforehand about the bill, and that was one reason why they were not present.

“The PTI members did not even want to discuss the bill and state their reservations,” she said referring to her own discussions with some of them.

Human rights lawyer Ali Imran, who was present in the assembly’s Speaker Box on Wednesday, said that in particular one of the reservations that caused an issue was the clause that said a court could order a GPS tracker to be installed to monitor movement of the defendant, in case he was accused of an act of grave violence or was deemed likely to be committed.

“Some of the male MPAs found this very derogatory,” he said. “In fact, even the ruling party had trouble finding support. There was an issue of quorum in the assembly as members were very few.”

He said there was dissent over another clause according to which in order to protect “life, dignity and reputation of the aggrieved, a woman protection officer (WPO) may direct the defendant to move out of the house for 48 hours.

Aurat Foundation Resident Director Mumtaz Mughal said the bill had originally come into the assembly in April and was approved by the cabinet in May and in the same month returned to the assembly, but since then it had taken a very long time to be passed. She said the bill had originally been an executive order but now was a legal order and this protected its status.

“We had worked on a bill in 2008 at the National Assembly level, but after the devolution took place a new bill for Punjab had to be introduced,” she said.

“Sindh and Balochistan assemblies had passed similar bills but did not have a good implementation mechanism, so we learnt from that and though the definition of domestic violence was not included, there are various forms of violence that the bill aims to protect against.”

PTI MPA Shunila Ruth says that while they did not embrace the bill, they did not oppose it either. “I do admit the running thought of most men in the assembly is that they feel they are being plotted against,” she admitted.

SP Nabila Ghanzanfar endorsed not just the bill but also the VAWCs that it supports. “We have launched women-friendly front desks in about 10 police stations, but the complaint will still be handled later by investigation wings that have the same chauvinistic attitude,” she says.

“But this makes life very easy for a woman complainant and eventually more women will become aware of their rights.”

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2016

Comments (13) Closed

Red Dawn Feb 26, 2016 10:23am

Amazing step. Go Nawaz Go!

wellwisher Feb 26, 2016 11:36am

pl. be careful while drafting the bill.In India many pro women, anti dowry and anti sexual harassment bills are getting misused, by women and police.

M.Saeed Feb 26, 2016 02:20pm

Just imagine the after-effect of such an action. Will it be possible for a family to survive after such an action? Will it not result in immediate attack with 3 final words? And on top of all, will it not change the concept for ever of a husband being regarded as 'Majazi Khuda'?

akram Feb 26, 2016 05:58pm

PTI law makers, that is shocking, I expected this kind of misogyny from the PML-N, but as a PTI supporter I have to say this makes me question whether I should support such people with backward attitudes.

I am very much for more freedom for women, Pakistan cannot progress economically without it. That is what most Pakistanis don't understand. They want the economic progress but are not always willing to let go of the old ways. You have to move with the times.

Naveed Feb 26, 2016 07:13pm

@akram : absolutely wrong. Freedom of women does not mean what is written in this law. This law is agression against the male citizens of punjab. I hope the governor does not sign this into a law otherwise it will destroy our society

Zubaida khan Feb 26, 2016 08:17pm

So it is better for a woman to live in an abusive relationship rather than to seek divorce???

your are trying to protect the divorce rate number? Why not educate the husbands to become better human beings?

muhammad Feb 26, 2016 08:33pm


Hassan Parvez Feb 26, 2016 09:20pm

@akram - What else we can expect from PTI. I gave my full support to PTI when the party started but after forming the government in KP, they look like the B team of Jamat Islami. I am completely disappointed.

Hassan Parvez Feb 26, 2016 09:22pm

@Naveed - And what about the aggression to women by males in our society. Wake up, let your education open up your mind.

Hassan Parvez Feb 26, 2016 09:23pm

@Zubaida khan - I support your views.

Hassan Parvez Feb 26, 2016 09:24pm

@muhammad - I used to think that way, but after reading comments from some of the educated ones, I wonder.

illawarrior Feb 27, 2016 05:51am

If the rise in the divorce rate is because women now feel that they no longer need tolerate physical abuse, then bring it on!

Muzaffaroklahoma Feb 27, 2016 10:57am

The bill is passed.Men in a misogynistic society will generally oppose it across the political divide.Our problems always has been implementing the laws.Unnecessary maligning of PTI. More power to the women .