LAHORE: A bill criminalising violence against women will soon be presented in the Punjab Assembly, Minister for Women Development Hameeda Waheedud Din said on Monday.
She was addressing a conference on violence against women and eradication of child marriage. The conference was organised by the Voice and Accountability Programme, AAWAZ, consortium partners of Aurat Foundation, South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, Strengthening Participatory Organisation and Sungi.
“The domestic violence bill will be adopted soon. Amendments are being made to the draft for effective enforcement of women harassment bill,” the minister said.
Minister for Minorities Affairs Khalil Tahir Sindhu, Justice (retd) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Dr Masoodur Rehman, Mehnaz Rafi, Shahida Naseem and Mumtaz Mughal also addressed the event.
The speakers said that violence against women was rampant across the country. They said that effective action was needed against gender violence.
Speakers said that a holistic policy was needed to achieve a violence-free society. They stressed the need for ensuring effective implementation.
The speakers also demanded that laws be introduced and implemented on priority basis to criminalise domestic violence. They also urged the government to take measures to ensure that all complaints of domestic violence were registered and the culprits prosecuted. The speakers said between January and September 2014, 5,401 incidents of violence against women were reported.
“From 2008 to 2013, 32,399 incidents of violence against women were reported in the Punjab.
These included kidnapping, honour killing , rape and gang rape, sexual assault and acid throwing,” the speakers said.
They emphasised that a formal monitoring mechanism was needed on violations of the child marriages law, dowry laws, family laws, post-divorce maintenance, polygamous marriages and jirga judgments.
The speakers said that forums must be provided to allow women easier access to police and courts. “Rape assistance centres must be formed with adequately-trained, permanent staff. Databases must be set up with mandatory registration of offenders and repeated offenders,” they said.
They also demanded that those persecuting minorities should be dealt with strictly according to the law.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2014.