The Punjab Protection of Women Victims against Violence Bill 2015 is soon to be passed in the Punjab Assembly for protection of women against violence, and for rehabilitation of women who are victims of violence.
Following Punjab Cabinet’s decision to officially approve the bill, a Delegation of women’s rights organisations and lawyers who work on human rights based matters submitted their written recommendations to Government of Punjab for inclusion to the Bill. They also identified some loopholes in the suggested Bill, and provided their suggestions and recommendations to make the Bill stronger and more effective, and submitted their concerns to the Secretary, Law Department.
Currently, the Bill is under consideration by the Standing Committee, and it is expected that the Committee will engage in meaningful consultation and dialogue with the civil society organisations in order to ensure that this proposed legislation effectively deters and counters violent practices against women. A letter recommending the Standing Committee and Social Welfare Department to engage with members of civil society in this regard has also been issues by the Law Department.
Executive Director of Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre, Farida Shaheed, one of the notable activists who have been advocating for legislation to address domestic violence, welcomed the initiative by the Law Department and said, “In light of recommendations submitted by women’s rights’ organisations, the Government should remove the present flaws in the Bill, and introduce provisions that will make this legislation more clear and effective.”
According to Women’s Action Forum Convener, Neelum Hussain, “The essence of the Bill is to provide recourse to battered women after they have been victimised, such as the provision of “Protection Centres” and “Shelter Homes”. However, our recommendation is for this legislation to introduce effective measures to prevent violence, and further, criminalise the act of domestic violence.”