Editorial : Domestic violence bill - Monday 28th March 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/28/domestic-violence-bill.html

MUCH that is amiss in Pakistan could be solved if the administration displayed the ability to follow through. One finds many instances in which, after having taken the first step in the right direction, the government seems to lose its bearings and change direction, thus leaving the task unfulfilled.Consider the fate of the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill. It was passed unanimously by the National Assembly in August 2009, but lapsed after the Senate failed to pass it within the three months stipulated by the constitution. Since then, little effort has been made to re-table and pass it. The proposed law had widespread support, even though it was opposed by some conservative elements. It was hailed by human rights and women’s rights bodies as an impressive step towards protecting women, children and others including the aged and infirm, who are vulnerable to a form of abuse that while pervasive remains largely invisible to society.
Now, it appears that there may be movement on the issue. The governor of Punjab, Mohammad Latif Khan Khosa, said in Dera Ghazi Khan on Friday that his government will soon adopt the law. It is to be hoped that this is not mere rhetoric. Were they to pass into law, the bill’s provisions may prove to be of great value in upholding women and children’s rights and protecting citizens who are vulnerable to abuse. As matters stand, victims of domestic violence face double injustice: abuse and then a lack of protection extended by the government. As a party that claims to champion women’s rights and was led by a woman, the PPP needs to be reminded of its commitments. While the state dillydallies over the bill, the rights of countless domestic abuse victims continue to be violated, and the law continues to offer them no recourse.

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