ISLAMABAD: The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has rejected the misgivings of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) that the recently approved Domestic Violence Bill would help increase the divorce rate.
“A major cause of divorce is domestic violence, which is endemic in Pakistan, and it is hoped that giving women means of redress will serve to decrease violence and abuse,” said a statement issued here on Wednesday. “If men were to stop beating their wives, we feel sure that the divorce rate will go down.”
Fearing that it can serve as deterrence for women who may wish to report violence, the NCSW also demanded removal of a clause from the recently approved bill that relates to the punishment for victim in case she was lying.
Criticising the punishment of six-month imprisonment and/or Rs 50,000 rupees fine, the statement says that every law can be abused and there is already a punishment on the books for perjury.
“We are very well aware that women already have a hard time reporting against their own family members, and of the stigma that is attached to domestic violence,” it says, adding that whether a complaint is false or true should be left to the judge to assess on the merit of the case, and the punishment clause should be removed, as it is bound to be abused and used as a threat by the accused against the victim.
The NCSW welcomed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill while acknowledging the active role played by the National Assembly Speaker Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Yasmin Rahman, who piloted the bill, Bushra Gohar, chairperson of the Women’s Committee, and members of the women’s caucus.
The statement also appreciated the efforts of all those who supported the passage of the bill, including Mehnaz Rafi and Sherry Rehman, for providing much-needed relief to women.“The new bill is a beginning in the process of positive change, where some deterrence has been spelt out by the state, and women are offered the opportunity to seek protection from violent and abusive husbands or relatives,” it says while adding that the bill would assure women that there was protection against such crimes, and would also give a clear message to the abuser that violence against women was not a private matter but a crime and would not be condoned.
It says that violence against women had been one of the most common and most damaging crimes in our country. Women are beaten, raped, humiliated, put down and emotionally manipulated without having recourse to justice or redress. “Not only women, but vulnerable persons, including handicapped children and adults, old parents and domestic servants, those who are powerless in the family, are also made a target of violence and abuse.”
Giving an answer to the CII’s concern that old and weak men can also suffer violence in a domestic situation, the statement says that the bill has addressed the issue, but it needs to be recognised that largely it is women who are the victims of such crimes.
The NCSW hoped that regardless of the new appointments, the CII would continue to have a women friendly attitude and the progressive and educated mindset that it had shown in the recent past.
“Distorted religious interpretations and discriminatory cultural practices have stopped women from gaining their equal status in society and contributing effectively to their family’s happiness and prosperity in the country’s development and the nation must now rid itself of human rights violations, such as domestic violence, child abuse and violent cultural practices, and join the rest of the world in building a more humane and non-violent social order.”
Source: The News