KP finally legislates to criminalise domestic violence

Published January 16, 2021
The long-delayed proposed law on domestic violence against women was passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday declaring the abuse of women by family members an offence. — File photo
The long-delayed proposed law on domestic violence against women was passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday declaring the abuse of women by family members an offence. — File photo

PESHAWAR: The long-delayed proposed law on domestic violence against women was passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday declaring the abuse of women by family members an offence punishable with one-five years imprisonment along with fine.

Social welfare minister Hisham Inamullah Khan presented the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021, in the house for approval.

Under the bill, domestic violence against women includes economic, psychological and physical abuses.

Bill passed by PA prescribes maximum of five years jail and fine for culprits

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the only province, which didn’t have an exclusive law to deal with domestic violence. The issue of legislation against it lingered on for eight years due to the opposition of the MPAs of religio-political parties.

The bill on domestic violence has been pending with the assembly since 2012. Its first draft was tabled in 2012 when the Awami National Party and Pakistan Peoples Party had a coalition government in the province.

The document was redrafted during the last coalition government of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami. It was tabled in the house in 2016. The Jamaat had expressed serious reservations about the bill, whose draft was referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology, which rejected it altogether terming it un-Islamic.

After getting an overwhelming majority in the 2018 general elections, the PTI government tabled the bill in the assembly on Feb 11, 2019, and it was referred to the Select Committee of the house over objections raised by the MMA lawmakers.

The committee had approved the draft after incorporating certain amendments recommended by the MMA MPAs.

Section 3(1) of the bill says that no person shall commit, aid and abet for the commission of the act of domestic violence.

The new law says, “Any person, who commits an act pursuant to sub-section (1), shall be deemed to have committed an offence under this act and shall be liable to imprisonment for a period not less than one year and up to a maximum of five years, in addition to fine as provided for the said offence in the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860.”

After the enactment of the law, the government will form the district protection committee in every district consisting of 10 members, including the district khateeb, a psychologist and a gynecologist.

PPP woman MPA Nighat Yasmin Orakzai moved an amendment suggesting that woman MPA head the district protection committee.

The house unanimously adopted it.

The original bill had proposed that the deputy commissioner head the committee.

“In the absence of woman MPA, the DC will chair the meeting of the committee,” the new bill says.

According to the law, the decisions of the district protection committee shall be taken by the majority of the members present and, in case of a tie, the person presiding over the meeting shall have a casting vote. Every district protection committee shall submit a biannual report to the Chairperson of Provincial Commission on the Status of Women.

Under Section 11 of the law, the government will establish a toll free help line for reporting of the domestic violence incidents and shelter homes in a phased manner.

The assembly also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Technical and Commerce Education Bill, 2021, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Control of Narcotics Substance (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Earlier, Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani deferred the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Amendment of Certain Fiscal Laws Bill, 2021, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sugar Factories Control (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, due to the absence of the relevant ministers.

He reprimanded ministers, ruling party lawmakers and bureaucracy over ‘non-serious’ attitude and lack of cooperation and expressed displeasure at the absence of the relevant ministers from the house to introduce bills.

The chair vented his spleen after spotting officials of the finance, establishment and excise departments in the officers’ galleries instead of the cabinet members and said both ministers and bureaucracy were making mockery of the assembly.

“You (officials) should have informed other ministers to introduce the bills if the relevant ministers were not present,” he said asking officials of the three departments to leave the house forthwith.

“This shows a non-serious attitude and we have to rein in the bureaucracy,” he said.

Mr Ghani asked PTI chief whip Qalandar Khan Lodhi and labour minister Shaukat Yousafzai to report the matter to the chief minister.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021

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