The civil society has lauded the passage of the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill by the National Assembly, hoping that it will help protect women’s rights once it sails through the Senate.
Hilda Syed, a senior member of the Women Action Forum, told The News that it was a wonderful piece of news, adding, however, that the task now was to pass the bill from the Senate as well.
“The domestic violence bill stayed in the Senate for three months after which it lapsed but we are adamant to pass it through. Similarly, as soon as the amendments are made to this bill, it should come into force so that its efficacy is not compromised,” she said.
Zohra Yusuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that the unanimous acceptance of the bill by the NA was a positive sign for sure as it made certain “evil practices” illegal. But given the history of such laws being interpreted wrongly or not implemented at all, awareness of the law enforcement authorities is also needed.
She said that the bill was focusing on the punishment aspect at the moment, and it should also take into account the problems women faced while reporting inheritance issues
“Recently, Bangladesh announced equal property rights for women on International Women Day which did not go down well with the clerics (there). But at least it is a step in the right direction. We need to focus on that as well.”
Syed further said that it was the prevailing mindset which needed to be targeted. “Our social system is changing on many levels but it remains medieval when it comes to women. So, law can always be twisted for certain people.”
She said that the marriage of a girl to the Holy Quran, for example, had nothing to do with religion but a lot to do with protecting feudal properties. And with the help of the said bill such practices can easily be banished. “It is a long process. But one which is not impossible.”
Amarnath Motumal, vice chairperson of the HRCP, believed that when the bill had received such a great response in the National Assembly then it would definitely get through the Senate as well.
“Fifty-two percent of our population comprises women. The public needs to speak up so that injustice does not go unnoticed.”
So far the unanimous passage of the bill in the NA has sparked quite a debate with many people looking at it positively while some are waiting for its coming into force.