Senate panel approves nationwide implementation of Zainab Alert Bill - Pakistan Today

Senate panel approves nationwide implementation of Zainab Alert Bill

–PPP’s Quratulain Marri opposes expansion of jurisdiction, says it violates 18th Amendment

ISLAMABAD: Senate’s Functional Committee on Human Rights on Monday approved an amendment in the Zainab Alert Bill, which called for expanding the jurisdiction of the proposed law to the entire country.

Previously, the bill only extended to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The Zainab Alert Bill, which addresses sexual crimes against children and proposes sentences for such offenses, was passed by the National Assembly in January this year but was blocked in the Upper House after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Mushahidullah Khan insisted that the bill be sent to the Senate committee first.

On Monday, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Quratulain Marri had objected to the amendment, saying expanding the jurisdiction of the bill to the entire country would be a violation of the 18th Amendment.

Earlier, the bill only applied to Islamabad because the National Assembly’s powers are limited as the bill involves the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Criminal Code of Procedures (CrPC). Therefore, the bill would have had to be taken up separately in each of the provincial assemblies in order to be implemented at the provincial level.

The approval comes a day after another horrific case of child abuse emerged in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district. On Sunday, police recovered a body of an eight-year-old — who, police suspect, was raped before being killed — from bushes in Saro Khel village.

ZAINAB ALERT BILL:

The bill — named after nine-year-old Zainab Ansari, who was murdered after being raped in Kasur in 2018 — was tabled by Mazari in June last year after multiple cases of horrific crimes against children emerged, mainly from Kasur.

In 2015, Kasur’s Hussain Khanwala village had attracted worldwide attention when a child pornography ring was busted. Hundreds of video clips had emerged showing a gang forcing dozens of minor boys and girls to perform sexual acts and filming them. The gang had also used the videos to blackmail families of the children and extorted millions in cash and jewelry from them.

In 2018, Zainab’s rape and murder had sparked outrage and protests across the country after she was found dead in a trash heap in Kasur on January 9.

Her case was the twelfth such incident to occur within a 10-kilometer radius in the city over a 12-month period.

The heinous nature of the crime had seen immediate riots break out in Kasur — in which two people were killed — while #JusticeforZainab became a rallying cry for an end to violence against children.



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