LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly Wednesday passed the Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2015.
The bill features redress for female victims of violence, criminalises all forms of violence against women and provides them with special centres which remove the bureaucratic hurdles that complicate a woman’s access for justice.
As per the bill, violence has been redefined to mean any offence committed against the human body of the aggrieved person including abetment of an offence, domestic violence, sexual violence, psychological and emotional abuse, economic abuse, and stalking and cyber crime.
A toll-free universal access number (UAN) will be started to receive complaints while district protection committee will be established to investigate complaints filed by women. Centres will also be set up for reconciliation and resolution of disputes.
Protection officers will be liable to inform the defendant whenever a complaint is received. Offering resistance to Protection Officers will be punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 500,000. Once a complaint is received, it will be updated into a database which will soon be set up.
Filing a false complaint or leveling false accusations can be punishable by up to three months in jail and or a fine of between Rs 50,000 to Rs100,000.
The law will not allow aggrieved women to be forced out of her house. The defendant can be made to leave the house for two days, according to the law. Darul Aman and protections centers will be set up according to the passed law.
Shelter homes will be built for the protection of aggrieved women, which will provide boarding and lodging facilities to the victim and children if any.
The defendant will be liable to bear all the expenses of the complainant women in case the court orders for it. If the defendant refuses to pay cash then the court can order for the payment to be deducted from their salary if applicable. Defendants can be cuffed with GPS tracking bracelets if ordered by the Court.
Those attempting to remove or tamper with the tracking bracelets will be jailed for up to one year and fined between Rs 50,000 to Rs 200,000. Defendants will not be allowed to apply for an arms licence or procure weapons whereas weapons already registered in their name will have to be submitted in court.
Talking in the assembly, Punjab Women Development Minister Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din has said that unanimous approval of Violence Bill by Punjab Assembly will help control violence against women.
The minister said that due to increasing incidents of violence against women, the government felt the need for evolving an effective mechanism for protection and provision of shelter to women and rehabilitation of the women subjected to violence. She said Violence Bill will provide protection to women against domestic violence, emotional and psychological and economic exploitation, abusive language, stalking and cybercrimes.
Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din further said that under the bill, if the court agrees with the stance of the complaint that she has been subjected to violence or can be subjected to violence, it can issue interim order, protection order, residence order and monitory order and violation of this order can be punished with fine and imprisonment. She said under protection system, shelter homes and women centres will be set up under a phased programme for the protection and provision of relief to women. She said all necessary facilities will be available at these shelter homes and women centres.
Dawn: PA approves bill for protection of women against violence
Express Tribune: Protection of women bill passed unanimously
The Nation: Punjab acts to protect women
Business Recorder: Punjab Assembly passes Protection of Women against Violence Bill