Legislation proposing stricter punishment for crimes against women, including forced marriages, was not accepted by the National Assembly on Tuesday, October 10, 2011 due to being poorly drafted.

National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza directed the law ministry to vet the draft of the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2008 to remove some minor but critical mistakes. She asked them to make the changes and resubmit the bill to the house within a week. She also criticised the absence of Law Minister Maula Bux Chandio from the house.

The draft of the act preventing anti-women practices included punishment for depriving women of their share of hereditary property. A seven-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 million is proposed in the draft.

The minimum punishment for imposing forced marriage on a woman would be imprisonment up to three years and a Rs 500,000 fine according to the draft.

In cases where a woman was married to the Quran, a practice not uncommon in interior Sindh, the punishment proposed is more than three years in jail term and a fine of Rs 500,000.

The bill was deferred for almost a week after a member from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz group said that proposing a minimum limit for a crime would be in contradiction of the basic spirit of law. PPP stalwart Justice (retd) Fakhar un Nisa Khokhar also objected to a clause in the bill proposing inheritance for women in moveable property.

The house will meet again on Wednesday afternoon.

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