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March 17, 2016

Activists come out against religious parties’ furore over pro-women law

Karachi

 
March 17, 2016

Karachi

Often seen to have taken hard stances against each other, mainstream religious parties and scholars belonging to all schools of thought appear to be standing in unison against the pro-women bill recently passed  by the Punjab Assembly. However,  voices  condemning the scholars’ demand to withdraw the ‘un-Islamic’ Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act-2015, by March 27,  have also been raised as civil society activists on Wednesday gathered outside the Karachi Press Club and urged the Punjab government not to succumb to the parties’ pressure.

The protest was organised under the banner of Joint Action Committee (JAC) – a coalition including organisations suc­h as the Human Rights Organisation of Pakistan, Urban Resource Centre, Peoples’ Labour Bureau, Aurat Foundation, Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Institute for Labour Education and Research and others.

The JAC, welcoming the Punjab government’s step, called for implementing the bill in letter and spirit.  A representative of the National Organisation for Working Communities, Farhat Parveen, said, “In a country where ‘honour’ killings and acid attack remain common, the passage of the bill in Punjab is a good omen and must be appreciated.”

The Sindh government had already passed a law pertaining to providing protection to women from domestic violence in 2013 but was yet to implement it, she added. “We strongly condemn the religious parties which have not only been mocking a serious bill protecting women from violence but also using the issue to pressure the government to gain personal benefits,” opined vice chairperson of HRCP’s Sindh chapter, Asaid Iqbal Butt.

The protestors also called for the legislation to be taken as a bench mark by the federal government as well as other provincial governments while also criticised the religious parties’ practice of doing politics in the name of women.

Representatives of over 35 religious parties on the call of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) had, on Tuesday, gathered in Lahore to warn the Punjab government of launching a mass protest movement if the bill was not withdrawn by March 27.

This bill introduces, for the first time, an in-built implementation mechanism through the establishing centres in all districts for victims, court orders pertaining to provision of residence, protection as well as monetary compensation and introduction of GPS tracked electronic bracelets-anklets for perpetrators.

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