Punjab Assembly unanimously passes protection of women bill

Published: February 25, 2016


A file photo of Punjab Assembly in session. PHOTO: ONLINE

The Provincial Assembly unanimously passed the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill on Wednesday after Opposition members withdrew all nine amendments on the condition that the government ensure enforcement of the law.

All 10 amendments proposed by the law minister were passed unanimously by the House. As many as 44 women members were present at the session out of overall 76 women lawmakers.

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The amendments proposed by the Opposition were withdrawn by women MPAs from the Opposition benches in the absence of their male colleagues. Lawmakers from the Treasury benches thumped their desks to show their appreciation for the move. Treasury member Waheed Gul’s reservations over the placement of GPS bracelets under the bill were shot down.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said violence against women was a global concern.

“Attempts to portray a picture of Pakistan not based on reality must be countered through legislative efforts,” he said. He said the bill could be amended if the need arose.

Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill

The bill, which has 31 clauses, provides a system for complaint registration as well as penalties for offenders.

Under the law, a family court would fix hearing within seven days from receipt of the complaint. The defendant will have to show cause in court in the same week. All complaints would be decided within 90 days from the day of the receipt.

The law provides that victims of domestic violence cannot be evicted from their homes without their consent. If they are evicted, the court can intervene.

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A protection order may also be granted to the aggrieved, directing the defendant to not communicate with her and to maintain distance determined by the court and surrender all licensed weapons.

The court can also order a GPS tracker to be installed to monitor movements of the defendant, provided than an act of grave violence has been committed or is deemed likely to be committed.

In order to protect “life, dignity and reputation of the aggrieved, a woman protection officer may direct the defendant to move out of the house for 48 hours,” the law says.

District Women Protection Committees will be formed under the law. It also calls for establishment of protection centres and shelters. Amendments to the law now ensure protection of all women. It also redefines violence as any offence committed against a woman, including domestic, sexual, psychological, economic abuse and cybercrime.

Penalties include six months imprisonment or R500, 000 fine for obstructing the district woman protection officer from performing her duties. Violation of interim, protection, monetary or residence orders or illegally interfering with the GPS tracker could result in imprisonment up to one year or impositions of a Rs200,000 fine. Repeat offenders may attract double the imprisonment and the fine.

Filing of false complaints may lead to imprisonment upto three months or Rs100,000 fine. A universal toll-free helpline will be set up to contact the protection centres and shelter homes. Two other laws, including the amendments to the Punjab Forest Bill 2015 and the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority Bill 2015, were also passed by the assembly.

The Punjab Forest (Amendment) Bill was passed after an amendment proposed by the law minister was included.

Two proposed amendments by the opposition to the Forest Bill were shot down due to lack of support. Amendments to the other bill were shot down for being time-barred (moved too late).

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Punjab Assembly were also implemented following their approval last week. Absence of the concerned parliamentary secretary prevented discussion on some adjournment motions and MPAs were not allowed to take up more than one issue.

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The Zakat Rozgar Scheme was discussed on a point of order moved by Treasury member Amjad Ali Javed.

Minister for Industries Chaudhry Muhammad Shafiq said the project was an employment scheme under which rickshaws were being given to the needy as decided by district Zakat committees. The scheme, which was inaugurated in Lahore on Wednesday would be extended to all districts.

The session was adjourned till Thursday.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th,  2016.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Sceptic
    Feb 25, 2016 - 12:04PM

    Another feather in Punjab’s hat. Punjab is on the right track on empowering and.protecting women and ensuring gender equity. May the province keep developing and progressing.Recommend

  • Sher Ali
    Feb 25, 2016 - 7:35PM

    It’s 2016 for crying out loud. Why hasn’t this assembly passed 15 more bills on this issue? Why is everything always a first step in this country? The pace of legislation is constantly outdone by the pace of real life. For our parliamentarians, it’s always more important to ponder what’s cooking at home rather than getting their job done at work.Recommend

  • Mina
    Feb 25, 2016 - 7:36PM

    One word: Bravo!Recommend

  • Ali
    Feb 26, 2016 - 12:14AM

    If so Stalking from other side should also be declared as a crime Recommend

  • vinsin
    Feb 26, 2016 - 3:14AM

    This proves that TNT works and subcontinent Muslims can progress better by being separate. Now Pakistani Muslims have better laws compared to Indian Muslims.Recommend

  • plit
    Feb 26, 2016 - 3:37AM

    equality and progress is not to create a set of privileges for a group of people equality is to create gender, racial, and religious neutral legislation.

    This is more of the same, that is create power and privileges for some to the detriment of other.

    That is by definition NOT equalityRecommend

  • Najeeb Shah
    Feb 26, 2016 - 9:42PM

    it has always been the case for both men and women , its been in the constitution for years ,

    A female can face jail time as well for thisRecommend

  • Najeeb Shah
    Feb 26, 2016 - 9:46PM

    the doubble standards tho

    “Filing of false complaints may lead to imprisonment upto three months or Rs100,000 fine”

    why 100,000 ? it should be just as much as the offenderRecommend

  • Usman
    Feb 28, 2016 - 8:49PM

    Thanks to Punjab Government! West succeeded and We lost. Goodbye to family and marriage system!Recommend

  • amna sheikh
    Feb 29, 2016 - 12:46AM

    If other family member like brother and sister beaten their sister r force for other thing like force merriage r for doing r leaving job then it will give rights r not??Recommend

  • amna sheikh
    Feb 29, 2016 - 12:50AM

    If a women victim of cruel of her own family member like sister and brother then it will apply r not?Recommend

  • sarfraz
    Feb 29, 2016 - 12:40PM

    Congratulate. It will encourge love marriages. Thanks pakistani media which showed such tv showes in which parents embarrassment were proudly shown. Wow women in pakistan wants western freedom and islamic rights both. Recommend

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