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Civil society hails enactment of bill on women’s rights

PESHAWAR: Women advocacy groups and civil society organizations welcomed on Friday passage of anti-women practices bill by the National Assembly, a move seen as “victory” for women’s rights in the country.

“It was a long-standing demand of civil society to make legislation against the man-made customs. Woman was used as commodity. There are several practices and customs in vogue in the country, which are not only against human dignity but also volatile human rights,” they said in a joint press statement.

They added, “Such customary norms are likewise contrary to Islamic injunctions. It is, therefore, necessary that such inhumane practices and customs are done away forthwith and the person’s continuation such practices be dealt with severely by providing penal and financial liabilities.”

Women Action Forum’s Rukhshinda Naz, Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network coordinator and CRSD Executive Director Idrees Kamal, Samina Rehman, Society for Rights and Development Chairman Zar Ali Khan, Blue Veins Coordinator Qamar Naseem, Noor Education Trust chairperson Zubaida Noor, Nazara Syed of Khwendo Kor, Shirin Javed of Aurat Foundation, Saira Bano of SharkatGah hailed the parliamentarians, particularly MNA Donya Aziz.

“The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Amendment Bill) Bill 2010” prohibits certain practices leading to exploitation and discrimination against womenfolk including marriage with the Holy Quran, giving a female in marriage or otherwise in Badla-e-Sulh, Wani or Sawara and depriving women of inheriting property.

The bill moved by MNA Donya Aziz was succeeded to get clearance in the third attempt, as the bill was twice deferred in the last NA session (35th session) of private member day. The four clauses of the anti-women practices bill had been passed after thorough discussion.

“It is the duty of sitting senators and Senate to pass the bill. The civil society organizations will keep continuing their struggle till the implementation of the Law,” they vowed.

The civil society organizations said that now “it will pave the way for a just and viable society.”

By substituting section 310-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860) the bill says, “whoever gives a female in marriage or, otherwise, compels her to enter into marriage, as badal-e-sulh, Wani or Sawara or any other custom or practice under name, in consideration of settling a civil dispute or a criminal liability, shall be punished with imprisonment of wither description for a term which may extend to seven years but shall not be less than three years and shall be liable to fine of five hundred thousand rupees.”

The chapter about the prohibition of depriving woman from inheriting properly, says that whosoever by deceitful or illegal means deprives any woman from inheriting any moveable or immovable property at the time of opening of succession shall be punished with imprisonment for either description for a term which may extend to ten years but not less than five years or with a fine of one million rupees or both.

As per the prohibition of forced marriage, the bill says, “whosoever coerces or in any whatsoever compels a woman to enter to marriage shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term, which may extend to ten years or for a term which shall not be less than three years and shall also be liable to fine of five hundred thousand rupees.”

In the section prohibition of marriage with the Holy Quran, the bill says, “whosoever compels or arranges or facilitate the marriage of woman with the Holy Quran shall be punished with imprisonment of with description which may extend to seven years which shall not be less than three years and shall be liable to fine of five hundred thousand rupees.”

In the explanation of the bill it was cleared that oath by a women on Holy Quran to remain unmarried for the rest of her life or, not to claim her share of inheritance shall be deemed to be marriage with the Holy Quran.’
Source: Daily Times
Date:11/19/2011

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