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President signs two bills seeking punishment for offences against women

By: Asim Yasin

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday gave assent to two landmark bills that seek enhanced punishment for several offences against women.

The first bill that was assented to is called Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Bill 2011 which was passed by the National Assembly on November 15, 2011 and by Senate on December 12, 2011.

Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that president signed the bills Thursday to coincide with the national day for working women to highlight the government’s commitment to protect women against abuse by raising the bar for crimes against them.

The president, while signing the bills, said that in line with the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Banazir Bhutto, the present democratic government would continue to empower women and the signing of a Bill into an Act was a manifestation of this policy.

He said the signing of the new law Thursday was an auspicious occasion as December 22 marked the national day for working women. The first bill signed into law seeks punish for offences against women, namely, giving them in marriage in badal-e-sulah, wanni or swara, depriving them from inheritance, forced marriage and marriage with Holy Quran.

According to Section 310A, “whoever gives a female in marriage or otherwise compels her to enter into marriage, as badal-e-sulah, wanni, or swara or any other custom or practice under any name, in consideration of settling a civil dispute or a criminal liability, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years but shall not be less than three years and shall also be liable to fine of five hundred thousand rupees.”

A new chapter XXA containing three clauses has also been inserted in the code seeking to prohibit three offences against women. The offences punishable with various terms of imprisonment and fine include depriving women from inheriting property, forced marriage and marriage with the Holy Quran.

Section 498A states that “Whoever by deceitful or illegal means deprives any woman from inheriting any movable 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 be less than five years or with a fine of one million rupees or both.”

Section 498B states that “whoever coerces or in any manner whatsoever compels a woman to enter into marriage shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term, which may extend to seven 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.”

Section 498C states that “whoever compels or arranges or facilitates the marriage of woman with the Holy Quran shall be punished with imprisonment 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.”

It also explains that oath by a woman 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.

The bill also refrains provincial government from suspending/remitting sentences in cases of rape. The spokesperson said that the second bill which the president assented to was the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Bill 2011.

This bill, he said, seeks to provide punishment of 14 years to life imprisonment for crimes of disfiguring and defacing of human organ/body by corrosive substance.

Section 336B of the bill states that “Whoever causes hurt by corrosive substance shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than fourteen years and minimum fine of one million rupees.”

The spokesperson said that the president gave his assent to these bills after receiving summaries containing the advice from the prime minister.

Source: The News

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