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Honour killings be declared penal offence: speakers

PESHAWAR, Dec 11: The participants at a three-day workshop urged the government to declare honour-related murder as intentional killing and enact provincial laws in conformity with existing laws in the country.

The participants agreed with the provincial government proposals to declare customary practices like swara, non- provision of shares to women in inheritance, domestic violence, talaq-e-mughalliza and child marriages as penal offences so as to curb the menace.

Speaking on Thursday at the concluding session of the workshop “Draft laws to protect women’s rights” arranged by the provincial law, parliamentary affairs and human rights department, the participants appreciated the government’s effort and the six draft laws.

They said that they were aimed at protecting the women’s rights and should be brought in accordance with the already existing laws. Amir Gulab, law department secretary, said that his department had prepared the six draft laws included the law of Qasamat, law of prevention of Talaq-i-Mughalliza, law of prevention of violence against women, the law relating to enforcement of women’s ownership right. They were discussed at the workshop.

Another law relating to prevention of Swara, a customary practice, was also discussed. The law on child marriages was not brought under discussion as the Child Marriages Restraint Act, 1929, was already in existence.

After the group discussion on the draft laws for three days the leader of one group, Nawaz Khan, a former session judge, recommended that the laws should be comparatively studied with the existing laws to avoid confusion.

He said that courts should play their role and decide the cases in the light of circumstances and implement laws related to women’ rights. The leader of second group, Sardar Sikandar Khan, a lawyer, recommended that Swara, Talaq-i-Mughalliza and violence against women should be penalised so that the society should be purged from such customary practices.

The leader of the third group, Syed Jalal Shah, a religious scholar, recommended that both the parties involved in the practice of Swara should be penalised. His group appreciated the proposed law on Qasamat (deciding the case by swearing on Holy Quran), stating that presently in no existing law the practice was available.

The group stated that in unseen murders, the law would prove useful as people of the society would be made responsible. The groups deliberated on honour-related murders and recommended that they should be treated as intentional killing.

They added that Talaq-i-Mughalliza or Talaq-i-Salasa (three pronouncement in one sitting) was condemned in Islam, therefore there should be a law to check it. They recommended that the concerned courts should make sure the provision of the women share in inheritance and courts should also be made responsible for handing over possession to women in such cases.

The parliamentarians and MPAs specially women did not turn up to the workshop. Only MMA’s MPA Razia Aziz attended it. The three groups submitted their recommendations in written form to the law department which would consider the recommendations and then make changes in the six draft laws accordingly.

The draft laws would be later presented to the cabinet and then brought in the form of bills in parliament. The participants including lawyers, religious scholars and government employees of the law department.

Source: Dawn

Date:12/12/2003

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