KP announces district committees for implementation of harassment act

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has announced the formation of district protection committees (DPC) for swift implementation of an anti-women harassment law across the province.

In January last, the provincial assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2020, targeting the incidents of workplace harassment.

Provincial Minister Hashim Inamullah Khan while briefing reporters during a press conference said these committees would be headed by a female Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) to resolve disputes related to domestic violence or harassment at workplaces.

In case, services of an elected legislator were not available, he said, the deputy commissioner will head the DPC comprising two members from civil society, officials of government, intelligentsia and other stakeholders.

“The main role of these committees would be reconciliatory. It would take up the problems between complainants and respondents and would find an amicable solution,” he said.

He said it would be mandatory for the deputy commissioners to convene meetings of DPCs at least once a month and decide on complaints swiftly.

In case, parties did not agree to the proposed solutions, he said, the case would be referred to District Sessions Judge or Additional District Sessions Judge to decide it within two months. And if any party did not agree with the court’s judgment then appeals against such decisions could be filed in the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

Under the new act, he said, up to five years of prison time and a penalty or both could be handed, saying the court can also pass an interim order in such cases.  He said one-year imprisonment and up to Rs0.3 million fine could be handed in case of violation of the court orders.

To a question about the government’s flagship shelter homes project, he said, services including free accommodation and food were being provided to shelterless in Peshawar and other major cities of the province, and thousands of poor people were being facilitated for the last two months.

The minister said eight new shelter homes including six at divisional headquarters and two in Peshawar would be established to protect shelterless people from harsh weather conditions under a project worth Rs680 million.

He said a bill for the protection of children against all types of harassment and abuses would soon be tabled in the provincial assembly, proposing strict punishments.

To a question about public execution of convicts involved in child abuse and sexual harassment cases, the minister said it has been proposed that videos of all such convicts may be prepared during the time of their execution that would be available with the government and may be used when required.

Khan said about the Rs1 billion has been disbursed for the strengthening of social welfare, special education, and women empowerment services in merged areas.

Under this project, the minister said families affected by terrorism in merged tribal areas would be facilitated to establish their own business and contribute to the country’s development.

Under this programme, he said loans up to Rs0.4 million would be provided to each such family under flexible terms and conditions.

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