The provincial government has decided to add provisions on cyber harassment to the Violence Against Women Bill. The bill might be tabled in the provincial assembly as the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill 2015 in two weeks.
The draft was approved by the chief minister on Friday and has been sent to the Law Department for vetting.
The proposed legislation had initially focused on curbing physical violence. Last week, the steering committee constituted by the chief minister added sections on cyber crime to the bill on the recommendation of Special Monitoring Unit. It has now been sent to a cabinet committee and the Law Department.
The government plans to table the bill in two weeks.
SMU Senior Member Salman Sufi told The Express Tribune that violence and harassment had taken new forms, the bill would cover physical and emotional abuse. He said the bill would take into account cyber stalking, harassment via electronic communication and social media, defamation, blackmailing, dissemination of obscene material, unauthorised control and access over a computer system, lewd messages, unauthorised photographs and storing and distributing personal information of other people via cell phones and personal computers. Central Police Office Public Relations Director Nabeela Ghazanfar said cases related to cyber crime had increased in two years.
She said many women sought police action over hacking and harassment on media sites. She said the legislation would enable police to take action against such offenders.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2015.