Mon April 24, 2017
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

Lahore

April 14, 2016

Share

Advertisement

‘Reservations about women protection bill baseless’

‘Reservations about women protection bill baseless’

LAHORE

Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) in collaboration with an NGO organised a seminar on the recently passed and controversial Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2016 on Wednesday at Alhamra. 

Speakers at the seminar including Women Development Minister Hameeda Waheed-ud-din and Secretary General of Human Rights Commission IA Rehman urged the civil society groups and supporting public to publicly endorse the bill in face of opposition from conservative elements. Inaugurating the seminar, PCSW Chairperson Fauzia Viqar informed the audience of civil society activists and female parliamentarians of the important aspects of the bill including measures for prevention of violence, protection mechanisms, and rehabilitation for the survivors of violence and psychological abuse. Viqar stressed the importance of the legislation in light of rising incidents of domestic violence and harassment in the province.

The chairperson dismissed claims from opposing quarters that the bill violates the Constitution and stated that the preamble gives clear discretion for legislative bodies to make and pass laws aimed at the welfare of women and children. She noted that most of the reservations on the bill were baseless and a significant majority of those opposing the bill were not familiar with the text of the bill. Viqar informed that the gazette notification for the bill had been issued and no amendments were forthcoming. While the aggrieved party in the bill is limited to females, the perpetrators could be both women and men, said Viqar, adding that the law had created district protection committees with four civil society representatives and these would be functional soon. The chairperson said everyone must work to ensure the bill is implemented in letter and spirit to combat violence against women.

Former chairperson of National Commission on the Status of Women Khawar Mumtaz stressed the need for a national base-line survey to calculate the widespread nature of violence against women and make the case for strong legislation. She pointed that Sindh and Balochistan had passed laws against domestic violence much earlier than Punjab, with Sindh Assembly criminalising the act of violence against women. Even though the Punjab bill is oriented towards protection after the actual act, Mumtaz said it was a necessary step in the right direction and would build momentum for more radical measures. The former NCSW chairperson also appealed to female parliamentarians to oversee the implementation process.

Secretary General, HRCP, IA Rehman said opposition from religious quarters was a constant in the history of human rights in Pakistan and urged civil society to increase their numbers and support in the face of this, instead of holding small gatherings with likeminded people in attendance. Rehman noted that the presence of religious extremist outfits and overall conservatism in Punjab in contrast to Sindh and Balochistan indicated why the bill had received such a negative reaction in the populous province. Rehman lamented that why Ulema were given an invitation by the government to express its reservations, civil society groups with important opinions on loopholes in the bill were not invited with the same eagerness. The human rights veteran stated that the government must not bow down to all arguments of religious groups and remain steadfast in its commitment.

PML-N MPA Dr Aliya Aftab meanwhile talked about the effective of violence and psychological abuse on a woman’s mental health and said women in the province as seen in her daily practice suffer from serious post-traumatic stress disorders. Maheen Rashid also read a message from Adviser to CM Salman Sufi expressing support for the bill. Tamkinet Karim expressed solidarity with the government over the bill while simultaneously noting that much had to be done to improve it and make it stronger.

Aurat Foundation’s Mumtaz Mughal appreciated female parliamentarians for their struggle to get the bill passed in face of opposition. Under the bill, Mughal informed that women could seek help in violence against women centers in every district where legal, financial, and rehabilitative services are offered in one place. She criticised the government, however, for not including any women in the review committee set up for the bill.

PML-N MPA Azma Zahid Bokhari stated in her speech that under a welfare state, the protection and security of women is paramount. Bokhari dismissed arguments that the bill broke up families noting that physical and emotional unrest was not good for family members including the children and husband. While the religious rightwing is united, the PML-N MPA noted that the civil society is still not on the same page regarding the bill and this was working in favour of its opponents. She informed that only three to four observations had been made by the religious right in the review committee meeting of the bill and these were already defined and addressed in the rules of procedures. She hoped that the bill on honor killing would also be tabled and passed.

Founder of the Women Chamber of Commerce Dr Shehla Javed Akram expressed her support of the bill and said it was vital for the progress of women in society. 

Minister Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din said the Punjab government is taking practical measures for the protection of women rights, their socio-economic empowerment and elimination of discriminatory attitude against women. She said the act curbing violence against women has been unanimously adopted by Punjab Assembly and there is room for amendments in the act during two years and that the government has constituted a special committee to review reservations about the act.

Advertisement

Comments

Advertisement

Topstory

Opinion

Newspost

Editorial

National

World

Sports

Business

Karachi

Lahore

Islamabad

Peshawar

Advertisement