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March 25, 2016

Ulema’s proposals to be included in women bill rules, says Rana Sana


March 25, 2016

LAHORE: The chief minister constituted an Ulema consultation committee on the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act, which over the course of three meetings proposed suggestions. These rules are made within 120 days of passing of any legislation, hence no amendments to the current Act are needed. The rules will be made starting from next week.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah chaired a meeting in this regard. Senior member CM’s Special Monitoring Unit Law & Order, Salman Sufi, presented to the participants of the meeting and assured them that the suggestions made by the Ulema committee were already going to be included in the Rules of the Act but since they have made comprehensive suggestions there will be greater clarity in the Rules now. Rana Sanaullah stated that legislation-making is an on-going process and assured the committee that their suggestions would be included in the Rules. Rana Sanaullah also said that the government would wait for the letter addressed by the Law Minister to 1100 Ulema to reach them and if anything un-Islamic is found in it the law will be sent to the assembly for amendment. “However, up until now the suggestions made do not call for any amendments to be made. JUI-F members have been a part of this committee, but did not attend a single meeting or present a single observation.

The government is grateful to the Ulema of the Consultation Committee to raising comprehensive observations, all of which will be clearly explained, so that we can implement this law together, in its true spirit of preventing violence against women. The answers to the suggestions of the Ulema committee include the following. It would be clarified in the Rules, that the Women Protection Officer will separate both the parties inside the house first, rather than evicting the husband for up to 48 hours, as per Surah Nisa. If the Women Protection Officer cannot separate them and if the woman doesn’t want to move to the shelter home, then she may ask the husband to leave the house within one hour.

It would also be clarified in the Rules, that the Women Protection Officer can take an undertaking from the aggressor, promising not to commit violence. However, upon repetition of violent act, action will be taken against aggressor. As per Ulema’s suggestion and existing clauses in the law, mediation will be the foremost step through the District Women Protection Committees & Protection Centres and shelter homes.

The fact that GPS Trackers will not be used for cases between a husband and a wife since they live in the same house, will also be clarified in the rules. GPS trackers are only for those who are not living together. It is defined that GPS tracker will be used to protect the life, dignity or reputation of the aggrieved in cases of grave violence or likely grave violence such as rape/acid attack/attempted murder. The crimes upon which GPS tracker will be used will be further clarified in the Rules. Unlike Sindh & Balochistan Domestic Violence Act, that rely on human evidence, this legislation provides for electronic evidence for enforcement of Protection Orders.

Psychological Violence has already been very clearly defined in the Act, as certified by a panel of psychologists, and does not restrict the family members to question or inquire about her whereabouts or actions, as long as violence is not committed against her.

As per the request of the Ulema Committee, Mediation Committees will include members of the family and Islamic scholars. The composition of the Mediation Committees will vary from case to case, as will be specified in the Rules and Ulema can be added in the committee. Mediation through immediately available elders can be incorporated in the Rules. If this mediation through elders fails then WPO can exercise her mediation powers under this Act,” the law minister said.

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