On Thursday, activists extolled the passing of a notable bill defending women’s rights in Punjab. The legislation established shelters and a helpline and also demands that defendants wear GPS trackers.
The definition of “Violence” has been broadened to include “any offence committed against a woman including abetment of an offence, domestic violence, emotional, psychological and verbal abuse, economic abuse, stalking or a cyber crime” by the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill
Head of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Zohra Yusuf, hailed the bill and conveyed hope for adequate endorsement for the bill to protect women and place offenders behind jail.
Zohra said in a statement issued on Thursday “The bill appears to be a rather comprehensive attempt to institute a system for prevention of violence against women and for protection and rehabilitation of the women victims,” Yusuf said the bill includes a broad definition of violence and steps to make complaint submissions easier.
“These are all much-needed measures that deserve praise but it is important to remember that cosmetic and purely procedural changes have not had an impact in the past,” she said.
The spokesperson for Punjab’s provincial assembly, Abdul Qahar Rashid, informed the AFP that the bill need to be signed by the provincial governor before it is regarded as binding on residents.
The novel legislation also required the government to introduce a a universal toll free help line for women and launch district protection centers and suburban ‘safe havens’ under a phased program.
The new legislation also demands that family courts fix hearings within seven days of a complaint and all complaints to be decided within 90 days.
Included in the bill is the authority of the court to order the defendant to wear a GPS tracker if the alleged crime committed by the defendant is severe violence and there is a likelihood of it happening again.
‘Honour killings’ and acid attacks commonly occur while women in Pakistan have been fighting for their rights for decades now.