ISLAMABAD: Pres­ident Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday promulgated an ordinance for protection of parents, providing them security against forced eviction from their houses.

The president promulgated the Parental Protection Ordinance 2021, under Article 89 of the Constitution, which makes commission of such acts liable to punishment.

The punishment inc­ludes one-year jail term or fine, or both, to those found guilty.

According to the ordinance, parents would have the protection of residing in their houses even if their siblings are owners of houses or they have rented them out. While in cases where the ownership rights vest with parents, they could ask their children to vacate houses.

After receiving a notice, the children would be bound to vacate the house. In case of failure to vacate the house on time, they would have to undergo 30-day imprisonment or pay fine or face both punishments.

The district deputy commissioners have been given the authority to proceed in accordance with law if the vacation notice is not complied with. Under the ordinance, police can make arrests without warrants in these cases while both parents and their children have been given the right to appeal.

Violators may face one-year jail term or fine, or both

When contacted, former secretary of Ministry of Human Rights Rabiya Javeri Agha said that the ordinance would protect parents from being evicted from their houses by their children.

“The issue is vulnerability of elderly parents and the role of the law in protecting the most vulnerable i.e. the elderly people. The ministry has good data on abuse of elders in Pakistan and legal safeguards will protect them from becoming homeless and provide them the legal support to evict abusive children living with them through institutional process,” she said.

According to data, 25.2 per cent of parents in Islamabad have experienced physical assault. This is an alarming figure revealing that over a fourth of the parents in the federal capital are being mistreated by their own children. In Islamabad 31.8pc elderly men and 16.7pc elderly women experience mistreatment by their own children. Over a fourth of such cases — 25.2pc — abound in the urban areas of the capital.

The case of Balochistan is also shocking where 14.7pc of parents have experienced oppressive behaviour from their own children. While 21.8pc elderly men in the province have experienced maltreatment, about 6pc elderly women have also been subjected to disrespect.

Sindh follows next with 8.2pc of parents being mistreated by their children, with Punjab at 6.1pc and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 2.4pc.

“Remember that we have 14 million people over the age of 60 years so even though in proportion to our population they are few, it still makes us one of the 15 countries in the world with an old age population of over 60. The projections are that we will have 44m elderly persons by 2050,” the former secretary said.

As a human rights defender, Tahira Abdullah stood by her principled objection to, and outright rejection of, legislation via presidential ordinances. “Irrespective of its substantive merits, this cannot be defined as an ‘emergency’, either warranting or justifying an ordinance. Instead of tabling all draft bills in parliament, this government has turned into an ordinance factory,” she said.

She said the subject of parental protection was sensitive, requiring social science research-based expert input and in-depth debate in the parliamentary committees. “For instance, would such a draconian law increase the risk of physical violence by senior citizens’ siblings or offspring, even resulting in their death?” Ms Abdullah asked.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021

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