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Women’s protection

Two bills passed by the Senate on Monday add to the recent legislation favouring women. The “Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill” and the “Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill 2008’ — both private bills — are significant.

The rise in acid crimes against women over the past few years makes it vital that we have tougher laws in place. The bill moved by Senator Nilofer Bakhtiar imposes a 14-year jail term and a minimum fine of Rs1 million for hurling acid. The Anti-Women Practices Bill, moved by MNA Dr Donya Aziz and now turned into law, also puts in place tougher penalties for a range of crimes, which include forced marriage, exchange of women to settle disagreements or practices intended to prevent women from inheriting property.

The passage of the legislation is of course welcome. We need to do all we can to protect women against discrimination and violence. Sadly, violence in all its many forms has been growing rapidly in our society. What the legislators as well as citizens at large should keep in mind is that laws alone will not change the order in which we live. We need more empowerment for women, an improvement in their status and greater freedom from oppression.

This can come only by providing them with greater opportunity and more access to education and employment, and by making steady efforts to change what still remains a patriarchal society. The new legislation is indeed a step towards this; but many more steps are required before we can move towards a future where women are able to claim equality in society and escape the brutalities they suffer.

Source: The News

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