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Unanimous passage of ‘Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016’ celebrated, Lahore


Unanimous passage of ‘Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016’ celebrated

Aurat Foundation celebrated the passage of landmark legislation the ‘Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016’ on 3 March 2016, at Avari Hotel, Lahore. The event was organized by AAWAZ Program in collaboration with Oxfam GB. Addressing the occasion, the speakers said that for the first time in the history of the country, a substantial protection is provided to the women against violence. They said that the government responded positively to the demands of civil society, particularly Aurat Foundation, with active participation and cooperation of members of the parliament both from treasury and opposition benches.

A large number of the members of Punjab Assembly and civil society organization including Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Begum Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din, Justice (R) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Ms. Uzma Bukhari, Ms. Faiza Malik, Dr Nousheen Hamid, Dr. Farzana Nazir, Ms. Shuneela Ruth, Ms. Shumila Aslam, former parliamentarians Ms. Mehnaz Rafi, Ms. Sajida Mir, Ms.  Amna Ulfat, Ms. Salman Sufi, senior member Punjab Government’s Special Monitoring Unit, Mr. Naeem Mirza, Chief Operating Officer, Aurat Foundation, Ms. Mumtaz Mughal, Resident Director Aurat Foundation Lahore, Mr. Harris Khalique, Team Leader DAI, Mr. Mohammad Tahseen, Executive Director SAP Pakistan, and  Mr.  Salman Abid, Regional head SPO.

Adviser to the Chief Minister Mr. Salman Sufi said, “We faced a lot of resistance to the Protection of Women against Violence law which shows that the bill covers all forms of violence against women. This is not a war between men and women”. He said that the law provided a comprehensive implementation strategy. He said that ambulances and legal and police help would be provided at protection centers. He also said that  the Government of Punjab would discuss reservations of the religious leaders on the law clause by clause.

Ms. Hameeda Wahid-ud-Din, Provincial Minister for Women Development, said the law had provided a mechanism for protection of women. Apart from protection centers, committees would also be constituted at district levels. Committee officers would be responsible for mediation.

Ms. Zakia Shahnawaz, Minister for Population Welfare and Environment, said, “there was a misconception that the PML-N was not a women-friendly party. This legislation has proved how wrong that is”.

Mr. Naeem Mirza appreciated the commitment by Ms. Faiza Malik from the Pakistan People’s Party and Ms. Nosheen Hamid from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), who had taken the bill forward. The passage of the bill is an outcome of years long struggle by the citizens of the Pakistan. He said the law would prevent all forms of violence against women by dealing with circumstances that lead to heinous crimes such as acid attacks and honour killings. He said 90 countries across the world had laws against domestic violence, including Saudi Arabia. “When will the Council of Islamic Ideology understand that the world has changed?” he further said.  He said the bill provided a comprehensive framework for the protection of women.

Ms. Mumtaz Mughal said, “Our effort towards legislation was started in 2002 and in subsequent years it was taken up in the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies by various lawmakers”.  She said the civil society had continued lobbying efforts for the passage of the bill under successive governments.

Mr. Mohammad Tahseen paid tribute to all the women members of Punjab Assembly who rose above party lines to vote for the bill. He further said effective implementation of law will provide a comprehensive solution of violence against women.

Ms. Mary Gill, MPA, Punjab Assembly, said most of the reservations against the bill were about a tracking bracelet on the accused. She said it was meant to be used only in case of repeat offenders. She said it would act as a deterrent. She also said the legislature had taken an important stand against a social evil.

The speakers called upon the government to ensure the effective implementation of the law and stressed to allocate sufficient budget for the smooth and effective working of various districts protection committees in this regard. The speakers welcomed the provision of the law to impose a penalty and imprisonment to the person for obstructing the protection officer in official proceedings.