LAHORE: The chief minister has finally approved the Punjab Women Protection Authority Ordinance which is going to be promulgated in the next few days, providing for a management structure for the innovatory women protection centres in Punjab.

One such centre has already started functioning in Multan, providing under one roof for the first time in the history of the country all sorts of protection and legal and medical assistance to women who are victims of violence. The government intends to establish such centres in every district.

The centres and the ordinance have been initiated and designed by the Chief Minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit.

According to a copy of the draft ordinance obtained by Dawn, the authority will be headed by a chairperson to be appointed by the government. Its members will include three MPAs, including two women, additional chief secretary or the home secretary, IGP, social welfare, women development and prosecution departments’ secretaries, four non-official members including two women and a director general.

To be promulgated in few days

The authority shall establish, maintain, monitor, govern, operate and construct women protection centres in Punjab, initiate, maintain and execute a continuous process of comprehensive planning for the protection system, formulate and ensure minimum standards, code of conduct and standard operating procedures to be followed by the persons engaged in the protection system.

It shall ensure that a case of violence registered with a police station in the province and the victims are referred to the protection centre, if not in the district concerned to a nearby one, for medical examination, collection of forensic, investigation, prosecution and protection.

It shall enlist women volunteers and organizations and assign roles to them in terms of advocacy, raising awareness, mediation and referring the victims to the protection centres, carry out administrative affairs and monitor and evaluate establishment or construction of protection centres and provide them funding for their functions.

The authority or its officials will approve annual budget, make regulations and policy decisions.

The director general shall be appointed by the government. The authority shall appoint officers, advisors, and employees, also having powers to acquire their services on deputation.

The ordinance provides that the authority may seek assistance of police in the discharge of its duties and performance of functions.

There shall be an additional IGP Women Protection, a woman officer, whom the authority shall authorize to supervise the working of police officers posted at the protection centres, report to the IGP on a bi-weekly basis all the cases at the centres, supervise and monitor prosecution of cases and oversee and monitor prosecution on gender-based crimes and performance of police officials at the centres.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2017