PAKISTAN: Inclusion of Ensuring Smooth Funding in Law Demanded

Monday, May 30, 2011
The News
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

The Advocates for Human Rights has suggested the government of Pakistan to include provision in the Domestic Violence Bill (DVB) that can ensure adequate funding to guarantee effective implementation of the law.

The Advocates of Human Rights (AHR) is an international organisation dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights. The UN Women consulted the AHR lawyers to comment on draft DVB that is in the process of getting approved by the Parliament. The comments from advocates are based upon information found in the UN Hand Book for Legislation on Violence against Women, UNIFEM Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls, the Model State Code and the Sop Violence against Women website. In Pakistan, the Domestic Violence Bill was first passed unanimously by the National Assembly on August 4, 2009, but it lapsed after the Senate failed to pass it within three months, time period required under the country's constitution. The bill then went to the mediation committee. During this process, the 18th Amendment was passed and women issues became the domain of provinces.

According to MNA Yasmeen Rehman, there are chances that the bill will now be passed by the National Assembly joint session as it was presented in the house much before the implementation of 18th Amendment. The Bill was proposed by Yasmeen Rehman as private member bill in the year 2008. The Advocates of Human Rights suggests that bill should direct the appropriate government bodies to promote the recruitment of female police officers to increase the number of women in law enforcement agencies. “The bill should state that where there are insufficient female officers at the sub divisional ranks, a female constable officer may instead serve on the protection committee.”

It says that the appropriate government bodies should review personal policies in this regard and should create specialised police units for the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence cases. The international lawyers also stress for public awareness efforts to ensure that victims are made aware of the law and suggest trainings for all stakeholders including members of protection committee, protection officers, health professionals, service providers, traditional and religious leaders etc.

The analysis suggests that the bill should direct the National Commission on the Status of Women to regularly monitor the implementation of the law once it is enacted. It says that the bill should also ensure that the aggrieved person can obtain an interim order in emergency cases immediately and without hearing. The comments recommend that the bill should prohibit the accused from arranging for a third party to communicate with the aggrieved person. In addition, it states that the DVB should authorise the court to prohibit accused form purchasing, using or possessing a firearm or any such weapon including acids.

The document says that official record of domestic violence cases should be disaggregated by sex, race, age and ethnicity, but the bill should also prohibit the disclosure of information to government agencies without the fully informed consent of aggrieved person.

It says that the bill should direct courts to temporarily order child custody and support to the non-violent parent when making protection orders. It suggests that the bill should clarify that the police must perform certain duties to support the rights aggrieved persons.

Mentioning some examples of these duties, it suggest that the bill should state that the police are to respond promptly to every request for assistance and protection in domestic violence cases, assign the same priority to domestic violence cases as to other acts of violence, conduct the risk assessment of the crime scene etc. It says that this police protection should be mandatory in all cases and not subject to the discretion of court as currently envisioned.