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MPA submits bill in assembly on domestic violence

KARACHI, Oct 9: A PPP member of the Sindh Assembly, Humaira Alwani, said on Thursday that she had submitted a draft bill in the assembly to seek curbs on the growing menace of domestic violence.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the Aurat Foundation to release data about domestic violence to the media, she said she had submitted the bill titled ‘Domestic violence against women and children (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2008’ to coincide with the press conferences so that the issue was properly highlighted to create awareness of the issue in the people.Crucially, the bill has been submitted by the MPA as a private member’s bill.

She said she had discussed with other women MPAs, and all the 33 of them, though some of them belonging to different parties, had assured her that they would support the bill. She deplored that women and children were still considered private property and whenever they approached the police to complain of domestic violence, the law enforcers, terming the issue an internal family matter, did not register a case and sent the victims back home to suffer further victimisation.

Ms Alwani said this was a comprehensive bill and once passed would control the menace of domestic violence against women and children effectively.

PML-F MPA Nusrat Abbasi on the occasion said that though she belonged to a different political party, she would support the bill when it came up for discussion in the assembly and vote for it. She, however, said that while the PPP MPAs, including the women members, did not support a resolution she had introduced in the assembly regarding fixing a 33 per cent job quota for women, she would support the bill submitted by the PPP MPA.

Earlier, the MPAs and Aurat Foundation staffer Hina Tabassum giving data about violence against women said that more than 846 incidents were reported in the province in the third quarter of this year — from July to September — in which 75 women were murdered, 69 women and 31 men were killed in the name of Karo-kari, 40 women were raped, 14 were gang-raped, 204 were abducted, 74 faced violence in police custody and 55 suffered domestic violence, 14 were sexually assaulted, etc. Five cases of incest were also reported in Hyderabad, Khairpur Mirs, Kotri, Nawabshah and Tando Allahyar.

They said that in many of the cases the accused were close male family members as in 74 incidents the accused were husbands, in 19 fathers, 19 brothers, 24 other close relatives, six uncles, three cousins, seven neighbours, two fathers-in-law, etc. Though declared illegal, at least 27 jirgas were held on women disputes and 19 women/girls were given as compensation to settle tribal conflicts of freewill marriage issues. Eight cases were also registered against the jirga holders and some of them were arrested as well. In Shikarpur six girls were given as vani through a jirga decision.

Lala Hassan of the Aurat Foundation on the occasion said when the MPAs were in the opposition they became very active on women’s issues and would even travel long distances to meet the victims. Now when many of them had become members of the cabinet and were in a better position to solve the issue, their priorities had apparently changed as now they rarely took any concrete steps in this regard.
Source: Dawn
Date:10/10/2008

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