Cambridge University’s Centre for Development Studies organised a lecture on combating violence against women on Friday. Chief Minister Punjab’s Strategic Reforms Unit Director General Salman Sufi was invited to represent Pakistan in Cambridge and to deliver a lecture.
The talk centred on the prevalence of violence against women (VAW) in diverse forms in Pakistan and how the Punjab Government is employing innovative mechanisms to lower the incidence of VAW crimes. The lecture talked about the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016 which engages all forms of VAW, including verbal, physical, economic, and psychological abuse as well as stalking and cyber-crimes in a manner that has never been done before.
Prior to this, neither was VAW considered a crime in Punjab in a sub-categorized and well defined legislative manner, nor were civil remedies in place for the victims of such violence. Moreover, the Act further has an implementation mechanism in the form of the Violence Against Women Centres (VAWCs) which provide a point of convergence for all justice delivery mechanisms for victims including lodging FIRs, medico-legal, forensic, and psychological aid, and prosecution.
The first VAWC to become operational this year will be the first of its kind in South Asia. Sufi spearheaded the drafting and passage of the Act as well as the implementation of the VAWCs. The lecture aimed to engage students and faculty regarding the crucial issue of VAW in Pakistan and the sought their input in making VAWCs accessible and viable.