For the first time in over six decades, minority communities in Pakistan may have access to legal documentation to prove their marital status.
The National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) has submitted four drafts of a bill regarding domestic violence as well as personal laws of minorities to the Ministry of Human Rights.
Earlier, the NCSW arranged a focus group discussion on the personal laws of Hindu and Christian minorities on marriage and divorce. As an outcome of the discussion, a draft bill for the Hindu community was prepared by the law committee of the commission. Similarly, a number of amendments have been proposed for legislation to make Christian Personal Laws on Marriage and Divorce more effective.
The drafts have been named The Hindu Marriages Act 2011, the Christian Marriages Amendment Act 2011, the Christian Divorce Amendment Act 2011 and the Domestic Violence (Criminal Law Amendment Bill) 2011. To combat domestic violence, another draft of the bill which seeks to introduce effective penal clauses in the Pakistan Penal Code has also been prepared.
Fata women’s rights
The commission has also written a separate letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, urging him to extend the scope of women-friendly legislation to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) by invoking the power bestowed upon him under article 247 of the Constitution.
The letter stresses that the recent laws passed regarding women’s rights, including that on acid crimes and anti-harrasment laws, should be extended to Fata.
Domestic violence bill
Talking to The Express Tribune, NCSW chairperson Anis Haroon highlighted the importance of legislation on domestic violence.
“When women fall victim to domestic violence and go to the police station to register an FIR, the police usually say, go home, this is your private issue – resolve it within your own walls,” she said.
Any act which affects a woman at home physically and psychologically should be considered a crime and the accused should be punished, she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2012.