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Bill not restricted to married couples’

Karachi: Women representatives of the Sindh Assembly clarified that the landmark domestic violence bill passed by the Senate on Monday was not just restricted to cases between husband and wife, but also extends to other immediate family members such as brothers, fathers and sons.

A consultative meeting of women MPAs and members of civil society organisations took place on Wednesday at the committee room of the provincial assembly a day after a landmark bill on domestic violence was passed unanimously by the senate after a lapse of two years.

The domestic violence bill, brought before the provincial assembly by MPA Humera Alwani in 2008, had been lying without being discussed. The meeting took place to amend and discuss details suggested by women rights organisations.

Though the discussion was held in good faith, there were many points on which the participants failed to agree. Additional Secretary Law Department Mohammad Aslam Sheikh had a lot of complaints with the bill. He pointed out several mistakes, thus stalling the discussion in process and leaving participants complaining.

He started by pointing out that either it should be a civil law or a criminal law as some of the clauses read out made it sound a bit confusing. Later, he asked that the clause on mediation be excluded from the bill if the perpetrator is to be imprisoned and fined, as the clause stated.

Rubina Brohi from Aurat Foundation said it had been a long time since any law related to women was passed by the provincial assembly. After the 18th amendment, however, it is mandatory for the provincial assembly to pass a bill on important issues, she maintained.

“We don’t aim to create discord,” said MPA Humera Alwani, “but to point out that domestic violence is no longer a private matter to be solved by members within a family.”

It was a well attended discussion with women representatives from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) present in full force. Sara Zaman of War Against Rape (WAR) said that the punishments would not only be doled out to the husband, but whosever abuses a woman within the household. The meeting would resume on Monday again as Tauqeer Fatima urged participants to come up with specific points to discuss.

Source: The News