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Sindh PA adopts bill to end domestic violence

Habib Khan Ghori

KARACHI: Women lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly on Friday gave a standing ovation to the house when the long-awaited bill against domestic violence was tabled and after brief speeches by legislators was unanimously passed on the 103rd anniversary of International Women’s Day.

Pakistan People’s Party lawmakers described the bill as an achievement of the house according to the vision of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto while Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislators termed it an important step to check violence against women that has always been highlighted by Altaf Hussain.

Under the bill, titled “The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2013”, anyone indulging in violence against vulnerable sections of society, women in particular, would be liable to be sentenced to one year in prison and a Rs20,000 fine.

Sardar Nadir Magsi appeared most vocal about women rights when he said he was in favour of having more severe laws in this regard. He added that violence against women in any form, including Karo-kari, was not restricted to villages but was common in cities as well.

Senior minister Pir Mazharul Haq said credit for piloting the long-awaited bill went to the PPP that had also initiated programmes such as the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme for empowerment of women.

However, he said, the bill was not restricted to women but also related to every individual of this society.

Nuzhat Pathan said if all people became like Nadir Magsi, there would be no need for such laws.

Naheed Begum in her brief speech raised the issue of the law’s implementation, citing that women lacked awareness about how to invoke the law to benefit from it.

Syed Sardar Ahmad said everyone ought to stand in support of the oppressed and it was rightly mentioned in the law that domestic violence includes all acts of gender-based physical or psychological abuse committed by people against women, children or other vulnerable persons.

Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, who piloted the bill, highlighting the need for a separate bill said laws in this regard did exist in the penal code but there was question of their implementation that warranted enactment of this special law to control domestic violence.

After the bill was passed, two resolutions with reference to commemoration of women’s day were read out by Farheen Moghul and Heer Soho, respectively. When put to the house, both were adopted unanimously.

The resolutions pay tribute to the dynamic women of Pakistan and resolve to further the struggle to establish a just and equitable environment for sustainable development of Pakistan.

After the adoption of the resolution, Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro adjourned the session till Monday at 10am.

Earlier when the house was called to order at 11.40am, reports on biannual monitoring on the implementation of the National Finance Commission award for the period from January-June 2011 and July-December 2011 were presented.

Another bill passed on Friday was related to changes in the names of certain positions in local government institutions.

The law minister, who piloted the Sindh Laws (Second Amendment) Bill (bill No 6 of 2012), speaking on its general principles said the title of positions in local government institutions was changed by the amendment bill. He explained that the title of district officer was replaced with collector, executive district officer with commissioner and district coordination officer with district officer.

The Sindh Tenancy (Amendment) Bill — bill 18 of 2013 — was introduced, but its consideration was deferred till Monday.

The introduction and consideration of the bill 20 of 2013 was also deferred to Monday along with consideration of the government bill 17 of 2013 pertaining to the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Human Research and Development Board.