Proceedings Against Women Protection Law to be Kept Discreet
LAHORE: The recently approved Women Protection Bill in Punjab Assembly warned the committees to keep the domestic disputes and their proceedings confidential.
The Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2015 that was passed on Wednesday criminalizes all forms of violence against women, including domestic, sexual, psychological, emotional, economic and verbal.
Under the new law, the provincial government will establish district protection centers, residential shelters and a toll-free helpline for victims of violence.
The first center would start its working in May. The committees have been directed to launch investigation into the matters secretly.
On the first hand, the women protection officer would try to resolve the matter with reconciliation for which teams comprising of members of assembly, District Coordination Officers (DCOs) and victims’ relatives would perform duties.
The law also says family courts must hold hearings within seven days of a complaint being made, and a decision must be taken on all complaints within 90 days.
"These are all much-needed measures that deserve praise, but it is important to remember that cosmetic and purely procedural changes have not had an impact in the past," the HRCP, a leading non-profit organization, said in a statement.
"The change in law will only make a difference if there is effective enforcement and the legislature continues to engage with the issue and ensures oversight," it added.
Girls and women in Pakistan face many threats, from acid attacks and "honor killings" to domestic violence, rape and kidnapping, activists say.
A study conducted by the Aurat Foundation, a Pakistani women s rights group, in 2013 showed that Punjab province alone accounted for 5,800 crimes against women - 74 percent of crimes against women in the whole of Pakistan.
A poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2011 ranked Pakistan the third most dangerous country in the world for women, after Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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