New domestic violence bill a good start: HRCP

KARACHI: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has welcomed the passage of the Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2015 in the Punjab Assembly and expressed the hope that efficient enforcement would help protect women from violence and ensure that the culprits do not escape justice.

In a statement released to the media on Thursday, the Commission said: “HRCP welcomes the adoption of the Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2015 by the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday as a good first step.

“The bill appears to be a rather comprehensive attempt to institute a system for prevention of violence against women and for protection and rehabilitation of the women victims. And for that the members introducing and supporting this bill deserve praise for doing right by the women in the province.

“The bill includes a broad definition of violence, steps to make complaint submissions easier, establishment of committees at the district level to investigate complaints, and shelter homes for the protection of aggrieved women. These are all much-needed measures that deserve praise but it is important to remember that cosmetic and purely procedural changes have not had an impact in the past. The change in law would only make a difference if there is effective enforcement and the legislature continues to engage with the issue and ensures oversight.

“Unfortunately, there is no shortage of those who take it upon themselves to denounce any efforts to save women from violence and harassment. The obligation of the state in the circumstances includes not abandoning whatever little positive change is brought forth, and raise awareness about the importance of the legislative measure in question.

“There is onus also on civil society organisations and the media to assess the law, the pace of implementation and also the impact it has on protecting women from violence.

“We hope that the new measure would facilitate the enforcement of law to protect women in the whole country and ways will be found to push through the central bill that has been pending for a long time in order to protect women in the federal capital too.”