By Muhammad Zamir Assadi
In an historical move Governor Punjab (most populous province of Pakistan) Malik Rafiq Rajwana signed women protection bill 2015 on Monday which has declared cyber crimes, stalking, abusive language and physical violence against women as a crime in the province.
Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2015 was passed by Punjab Assembly last week in which it was established that any form of violence against the women will be register as crime.
The bill has removed the barriers that hindered a women’s access to justice as it has also given hope that people responsible for violence will be punished severely.
Punjab provincial government has decided to implement the bill in the province in different phases as it will be implemented in the city of Multan in its first phase; moreover the dates of implementation in other parts of the province will be announced soon.
The bill has defined violence against women as any offence against women including abetment of an offence, economic abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, sexual and domestic violence, cyber crimes and stalking.
The important part of the bill is that a toll-free universal access number (UAN) will be introduced where complaints regarding violence against women will be received these complaints will be investigated by district protection committees. This centre has also given the mandate for reconciliation and resolution of conflicts
The bill clearly states that in charge of protection committee will be responsible to communicate the defendant about the complaint. The data base will be established which will be updated about the complaints on daily basis. If any of the defendant will create problems to officials dealing with the complain then they will be sent to imprisonment for up to six months and a fine of Rs 500,00 will be imposed.
The bill also clarifies that false complaints will also be discouraged as leveling inaccurate or exaggerated allegations will be punishable by up to 3 months or a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000 will be imposed.
The law will also protect the aggrieved women as no one will force them to leave the house while on the other hand the defendants can be forced to leave the home for two days.
It is pertinent to mention that protection centers and Darul Amans will also be established as per the law. The aggrieved women will be kept in shelter homes with the children in any case of emergency where they will be provided with all of the facilities. The court may also pass an order against the defendants to bear the expanses of aggrieved women. The court will order to deduct the expanses from the salary if defendants refuse to pay in cash.
The defendants can be cuffed with GPRS tracking bracelets following the court orders. Those who will try to remove or temper these bracelets will be sent to imprisonment for up to one year with the fines from Rs50,000 to Rs200,000.
Law prohibits granting the weapon license to defendants and if he already carries the weapon then he will have to submit it before the court.
The approval of women protection law has also divided the society into two sections. As a large the society is appreciating the law which will secure the rights of depressed women facing many forms of violence while on the other side religious political parties condemned and criticized by calling it an attempt to destroy the strong family structure of society.
The people belonging to other provinces has also demanded and raised voice for implementation of the same law throughout the country.
Muhammad Zamir Assadi is a journalist based in Islamabad, Pakistan.