The Provincial Assembly unanimously passed the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill on Wednesday after opposition members withdrew all nine amendments on the condition that the government would ensure enforcement of the law.
In a historic move, for the first time a substantial protection has been offered to women against number of wrongful treatments in the society. Initially bill was proposed in May 2015 but some apprehensions and objections were raised. However, this time the bill was passed without significant resistance and just assurance to implement the law was enough to pass the bill.
The bill is comprehensive in such a way that previously ignored offences have also been included in it. It covers wide range of violence against women including domestic violence, economic, emotional, psychological abuse, cyber crime, stalking and abetting of offenders etc. In this bill women would be provided with easy access to register their complaints. Moreover, unlike previous laws, it introduces an ingenious implementation mechanism. The bill proposes setting up of 24-hour, women-run, district Violence Against Women Centres. These will bring all the needed services, including first aid, police reporting, FIR lodging, prosecution, medical examination, forensics and post-trauma rehabilitation under one roof and accessible to women. Toll-free helpline for women would be established to provide assistance to women from legal advice and evidence collection to immediate protection.
The bill gives sense of protection to women who are being abused under the guise of traditional and some times religious values. If the bill is implemented in true letter and spirit it has the potential to bring significant positive change for women in Pakistan.
If properly implemented, the bill will bring positive changes for women in society.