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Domestic Violence Bill 2021 of Pakistan

What’s New In The Bill? Why They Are Opposing The Bill! How it’ll be enforceable!

In June 2021, the senate of Pakistan passed the domestic violence bill “prevention and protection” for women nationwide. It is surprising that only the president’s signature was required to make the bill become law. The Prime minister’s advisory on parliamentary affairs, Babar Awan, wrote a letter to the National assembly speaker, Asad Qaiser, seeking a review of the domestic violence bill by the Council of Islamic Ideology. It is a government institution that recommends to legislators whether a particular law is in violation of Islam’s sanctions or not. In this letter it was stated that the bill was first passed by NA and then referred to the lower parliament house after the senate’s amendment. Furthermore, there are some concerns regarding the bill’s definition and contents. Therefore, the bill must be referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology for guidance.

Religious sections of the society are questioning the sanity of this legislative bill

What’s New In Bill?

This new domestic violence bill will include not only physical abuse as a form of domestic violence, but also a wide range of other behaviours that are a mirror of physical abuse. Unlike prior legislation that focused solely on beatings, this bill really protects and prevents women across the country from abuse. Domestic violence, according to the bill, is defined as any act or attention that causes “physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, or economic threats made by a person against any woman in the nation or any other subject with whom the person is in a relationship that causes fear and threats.” If this bill passes, the legislation will be more extensive, and thousands of women will be protected in the future.

According to the domestic violence bill 2021, these actions and practices would be considered as ’domestic violence‘:
• Divorce threats to women & second marriages.
• Insulting women Infront of others.
• Those threats that cause physical & emotional pain.
• Character Assassination & saying those words which hurt women.
• Stalking her & also doubting her loyalty.
• Harassment is also included in the legislation.
• Ordering or pressuring a wife to live with someone other than her spouse.

The new domestic violence bill addresses gaps in the Pakistan Penal Code by defining illegal conduct that was not included under the previous legislation. Domestic violence is punishable by six months to three years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 1 lac under the bill.

Critical Part Of Bill:

Moreover, if a woman files a lawsuit against domestic violence, this new piece of legislation protects her from being homeless or thrown out of her house. Women as complainants would have a right to live or stay in a house with their spouse, whether they own it or not. The person who makes a complaint can also choose to stay in a safe home which will be arranged by protection officers for him/her, if the person does not want to live in a shared house with their spouse. Furthermore, the interesting thing is that the court at the time of hearing can ask the accused person of domestic violence to,
• Have you had any communication with the complainant/wife?
• You’ll stay away from the complainant/wife.
• You must wear a GPS tracking device, so officers can track your location.
• Did you move out of the house or are you still living there?
These are the few questions which the court hearing the case can ask the accused body for more clarification in the filed case. This small part of the new legislation made this bill even more valuable because in this bill, husbands or men can not manipulate their Islamic rights. Because in the previous bill, a husband could beat his wife but there must be no serious physical damage. Though this bill fully and truly protects women.

Why They Are Opposing The Bill!

In a letter to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, the PM’s advisor on parliamentary affairs stated that the bill needs a review by the council of Islamic ideology for many valid reasons. Many reacted in a variety of ways, with some having concerns that such things would be decided by a council of twelve men. Senator Mushtaq Ahmad, who belongs to jamat e Islami party, has been one of the most verbal opponents of the bill. This senator opposed and denied the domestic violence bill when it was not even presented in the upper house or senate. Interestingly, the government tried to pass this bill in the budget session of parliament just to prevent criticism. Mushtaq Ahmad stated that, “this bill’s concept spectrum is extremely broad and open-ended.” The Senator further said that, “it can be interpreted in a wide range, like the bill has mentioned harassment, but in the explanation it does not mention which type of harassment the bill wants to protect women from”. Other critics also feel hesitation regarding the bill because under this law, everyone in the family will be treated in the same way. In Pakistan’s culture or Muslim religion, parents are above the rest of the family and they can’t be treated the same as other members. Though domestic violence is a real and serious issue in Pakistan, it must be clear and concise, it shouldn’t be confusing in interpretation of sections. Many parliamentarians stated that, “you push it to the no return point at a time when you include an outsider, a protection officer, in your private or domestic affairs”. Surprisingly, according to the provision of making alleged perpetrators wear GPS trackers, which is not actionable as per national culture and system. Therefore, Hamid Mir has stated that the government should find solutions as per Pakistan’s culture and needs. They shouldn’t find American solutions to Pakistan’s issues. Senators suggested that provisions of the law should be changed, like protection officers might approach the elderly instead of talking to young couples or taking them to court directly. Meaning to say, when protection officers receive complaints regarding domestic violence, they should talk to the elderly members of the family and try to seek out solutions instead of taking the matter to court. This suggestion is actionable and feasible for our local community and culture due to many economic factors.

How Bill Will Be Enforceable & Actionable!

This piece of domestic violence legislation also entails that a committee will be established under the Human rights ministry and organisation when the bill is passed by the CII or parliament. The committee which would be established by them would appoint some protection officers who would help women and people report domestic violence or abuse, and also work to collect data regarding it. The actionability of this bill will also be easier because, with the help of protection officers, the court will be legislated to fix hearings for appeals within seven days of complaint. Moreover, full cases will be decided and solved within 3 months according to the provision and legislation of the bill. The appointed protection officers and court speedy hearings will be considered as the backbone of this bill because domestic violence or abuse related cases must be resolved smoothly and quickly, which will be no issue after this bill, if it passes. That is how this bill will help out and will be enforceable.

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