A Domestic Violence Bill in Pakistan is Facing Opposition.
Why basic rights for women is a Matter of Contention in Pakistan?
A new Women’s rights bill has caused a stir in the Pakistani Parliament.
What is this Contentious Domestic Violence Bill?
This domestic violence bill states that any act of domestic violence will be punishable with imprisonment for six months to three years.
The bill also has provisions for fines, ranging from Rs.20,000 to Rs.1,00,000.
The bill aims at protecting vulnerable groups, including women, children, and the elderly, against domestic violence.
What is The Status of The Bill?
The Domestic Violence bill was moved by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari in Pakistan’s National Assembly on April 19, 2021.
The bill was passed in the lower house of Pakistan on the same day.
But when it was introduced in the Senate, the Opposition demanded that the bill be sent to a standing Committee.
The committee reviewed the bill and proposed multiple amendments to the draft.
After the amendments were made, the bill was again sent to the National Assembly.
The bill was passed by the Senate but is now waiting for Presidential assent.
Why There is an Opposition to The Bill?
Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s parliamentary affairs advisor, Babar Awan, has written a letter to the National Speaker on the bill.
Awan sought a review of the bill by the Council of Islamic Ideology(CII).
In his letter, Awan said that many concerns have been raised “regarding various definitions and other contents of the bill “
He wrote that the bill “contravenes the Islamic [injunctions] and way of life” envisioned by the Pakistani constitution.
Awan claims that the bill has a broad definition of domestic violence.
He wrote in his letter that religious hardliners have criticized the bill & said that it has loopholes that can be misused.
Some people in Pakistan tweeted their opposition to the bill using the #WeRejectDomesticViolenceBill.
Why A Domestic Violence Bill is Needed in Pakistan?
As per the Aurat Foundation based in Islamabad, there were 2,297 cases of violence against women between January and December 2020.
These cases were reported in 25 districts across the country during the period of stay-at-home restriction due to the pandemic.
Honor Killing in Pakistan
Total cases in 2020: 430
Total women Killed in honor Killing cases in 2020: 363
Total men Killed in honor Killing cases in 2020: 148
Source: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Pakistan occupies the 151st Position out of 153 countries at the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan himself was embroiled in a controversy for blaming women for the rising sexual violence in the country.
” If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact on the man unless they are robots. It’s common sense. ” – Imran Khan (Prime Minister, Pakistan)
Why CII Review of The Bill is Being Opposed?
Supporters of the Domestic Violence Bill are against a CII review of the bill.
CII is a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the govt and the Parliament.
In 2016, CII had proposed a law that would allow a husband to “lightly” beat his wife “if needed”.
CII had also called for gender segregation in schools, hospitals, and offices.
In 2016, the council had rejected similar proposed legislation – the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women Bill.
At that time the CII had said that the bill was against the religious law.