Peshawar: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lawmakers have proposed various changes to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2019 including seven years punishment or fine of one million rupees or both for a person who commits domestic violence.
The lawmakers have proposed various amendments to the bill. These include replacement of chairperson of the District Committee on the Status of Women by District Officer Social Welfare and removal of a section imposing a heavy cost of Rs50,000 on a complainant if he or she fails to prove his/her case in a court of law.
However, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women (KPCSW) in its remarks has recommended some amendments. It showed disagreement to some amendments proposed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly select committee.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani had referred the bill to the House’s select committee for further amendments on February 11, 2019. This was done after the lawmakers of religious parties had expressed apprehensions about the passage of the bill in haste when it was tabled by Law Minister Sultan Muhammad Khan in the assembly.
Both members of the religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Inayatullah Khan and Maulana Lutfur Rehman, had opposed the passage of the bill without amendments. Sources told The News after proposed amendments by the lawmakers, the draft-bill is lying with the Law Department. It would be tabled in the assembly again.
As per the amended draft-bill, whose copy is available with The News, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker, Asia Saleh Khattak, proposed that in clause 13, new sub-clause 4 should be added as in the proposed draft no punishment for domestic violence has been proposed.
She pointed out that it says that penalties will be provided according to existing laws, but in the existing laws there is no punishment for psychological abuse, economic abuse and verbal abuse. Therefore, after the establishment of psychological, verbal or abuse and violence, the accused may be fined Rs1 million or seven years imprisonment or both as the case may be.
However, JI MPA, Inayatullah, who opposed the passage of the bill without further amendments, has proposed 14 amendments to the draft bill. But the KPCSW has remarked that proposed changes if applied, would restrict the scope of the proposed law, as the MPA concerned is only focusing on physical and economic abuse/types of violence. The original preamble is already in line with the Constitution of Pakistan. The JI MPA proposed to drop sexual abuse, psychological abuse, stalking and abetment of such acts from the ambit of violence.
However, the commission did not agree to this amendment in the remarks, which is damaging to the spirit of the proposed bill.
Furthermore, the JI MPA has proposed the inclusion of two persons from victims and accused persons and nazim of village and neighbourhood village in the District Protection Committee. The KPCSW stated this may result in political influence on the proceedings of the committee. Three women lawmakers two from PTI including Asia Saleh Khattak and Ayesha Bano and Shagufta Malik from Awami National Party have proposed that Section 18 about punishment for false complaints should be deleted in which Rs50,000 fine has been suggested if the complainant does not prove the case. The lawmakers said the complainant is not fined even in murder cases for the false allegation, so why this section has been included for domestic violence.
On the other hand, the JI MPA Inayatullah proposed the word ‘fifty thousand’ may be substituted by the words ‘one million’ or imprisonment of not more than 2 years or both as the case may be’.
In the original draft, no definition of a child was given, while now the definition of a child has been given in the amended draft bill. It was proposed that anybody below age 18 would be considered a child. The civil society organisations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have resisted the proposed removal of chairpersons of the District Committees on the Status of Women (DCSW) from the District Protection Committees.
Qamar Naseem, Co-chair, End Violence against Women and Girls Alliance KP, said instead of removing chairpersons of DCSWs, the provincial government should notify them. Sana Ahmad, a girls rights activist, opposed the proposed removal of the DCSWs chairperson from the proposed bill. She said the bill should be passed forthwith.
Taimur Kamal, coordinator, KP Civil Society Network, said the PTI government has been promising to adopt the legislation for five years but had failed to do so despite having a majority in the assembly.