LAHORE: The draft Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill has many shortcomings, rights activists said at a discussion on Wednesday.
The event was organised by Shirkat Gah, the Women’s Resource Centre.
The speakers expressed reservations over the bill, recently tabled in the Punjab Assembly, it has been referred to a standing committee.
Lawyer Hina Jilani said that it was not a bill addressing the issue of domestic violence. “It is just a procedural document, listing protective services for women affected by violence. It does not even provide them a way to seek justice. The bill does not even define domestic violence,” she said.
Shirkat Gah executive director Farida Shaheed said: “We are shocked that the government has failed to address domestic violence against women and girls through the bill. Violence against women and girls needs to be made a criminal offence.”
She said that over the last two years, civil society organisations had worked in close coordination with the government to prepare legislation to stop domestic violence. “However, the draft that we agreed upon has been disregarded,” she said. Other speakers noted that the bill did not contain the definition of psychological, economic, and emotional abuse and stalking of women and does not mention sexual abuse. The participants agreed to call upon the standing committee to which the bill had been referred and the Punjab Provincial Commission on the Status of Women to ensure that these issues were addressed.They urged the government follow the lead of Sindh and Balochistan governments that have enacted legislation that made violence against women a criminal offence.