ISLAMABAD: A special parliamentary panel has unanimously passed the anti-honour killing and anti-rape bills, paving way for pro-women legislation to be passed by Parliament in August.
“The two bills are likely to be presented in the joint sitting of Parliament in the first week of the coming month,” Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid told The Express Tribune on Thursday.
We have achieved consensus on anti-honour killing & anti-rape bills in committee of joint sitting of Parliament. Great news for Pakistan.1/2— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) July 21, 2016
The bills shall now be submitted to joint sitting to be held in 2 weeks IA. Was a v uphill task. Countless days & nights have gone into it.— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) July 21, 2016
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz said the two pro-women bills will be discussed in a special parliamentary committee meeting.
Pakistan to pass law against honour killings
According to Hamid, under the new law relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer of capital punishment, but they would still face a mandatory life sentence of twelve-and-a-half years.
In the anti-rape bill, "a provision to conduct DNA tests on both the alleged victim and perpetrator has been added for the first time," he said.
Rape of minors, as well as the mentally and physically ill, would become punishable by death.
Commenting on the move, Sughra Imam, a former senator from the opposition Pakistan People's Party who first tabled both bills said: "No law will eradicate a crime entirely but the law should be a deterrent. Laws are supposed to guide better behaviour, not allow destructive behaviour to continue with impunity."
Thursday's development came just six days after Social media starlet Qandeel Baloch was strangled to death by her brother once again casting a spotlight on honour killing murders which claim around a thousand lives in Pakistan every year.
Earlier, the proposed laws – Criminal Laws Amendment Bill, 2015, and the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2015 – had lapsed as they could not be passed by the National Assembly within the stipulated timeframe of 90 days.
Prospects brighten for pro-women bills
The bills were originally laid in the Senate in January 2014 by a former senator Sughra Imam as a private members bill. However, they could not make their way in the joint sitting of Parliament in April this year, mainly due to opposition from the Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Fazl.
However, the government last week constituted a special body –Committee of Joint Sittings Bills – to expedite legislation on the long-delayed process.
A consensus has already developed between the government and the opposition over the anti-rape bill while the agreement on the anti-honour killing bill is likely to be reached in a few weeks.