No more Domestic Violence: Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2016

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It’s been years that we have heard from different governments about bringing immediate reforms to end gender bias, violence and discrimination against women, natheless last year the proceeding government in Punjab passed a bill under the name of “The Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act” on 1st March, 2017. The intentions are well stated at the beginning of the schedule as, “An act to establish an effective system of protection, relief and rehabilitation of women against violence.”[1] This bill not only explains its abrupt need and required nature, but it also dictates the forgotten assertion in our Magna Carta to induce gender equality throughout the nation at any cost.

It’s said that the implementation phase will be effective in a progressive manner by districts; moving on from one district to all of the 36 districts in Punjab. Before discussing the proposed actions and perceived changes from the act, it’s important to understand the measures of implementation our government will be operational with. The article 3 of the bill evinces the subject.

The government will be running a general toll-free helpline for minimizing correspondence complexities and assist the aggrieved persons on immediate basis. The implementers’ would be establishing Violence against Women Centers (VAWCs) and shelter homes with essential personnel of different proficiencies. Those personnel will be responsible for appropriate investigation of offenses, legal facilitation for aggrieved persons and developing reconciliation atmosphere. Moreover, physical and psychological medical examination of effectees would be carried out along with their respective treatments. The government is also liable to produce an efficient system of delivery through maintaining data-base, monitoring and evaluation mechanism, and customary instructions-based learning of personnel to understand the issues involving women, their safety and assistance. [1]

The court procedure asks for a complaint either submitted by the aggrieved person or forwarded by her nominee or women protection officer requesting protection. It may also include the acquiring of residence and monetary order in favor of the victim.  The court has to fix the first hearing within the period of seven days and decides over the complaint within 90 days. [1]

If the court finds some validity in violence allegations, it shall pass a protection order in support of the plaintiff. This can result in restrictions over communication and visitation, including family, employment or regular visiting places with and without exceptions. A distance has to be maintained at any cost. The defendant would have to wear ankle or wrist bracelet GPS tracker if the victim feels that her life is in jeopardy. Besides, the defendant has to submit any legal firearm in his possession and he would also be restrained from owning a new one.  Moreover, the aggrieved person would be moved out in case of grave danger. [1]

On the other hand, aggrieved person cannot be evicted from the residence except in accordance with the law under residence order by the court. The defendant would be responsible for her accommodation as per his financial standing. Otherwise, she may reside in a shelter home until the matter is resolved. Alongside this, monetary order can also be given in favor of the aggrieved person where any losses, economic abuse, medical expense, and maintenance expenditure would be incurred by the defendant. [1]

It is surely a fine step towards confronting the perceived stigma of the world regarding our religious belief and its execution of such a societal setup, but this cannot be the end of efforts to change our society to an impartial one. Factually speaking, the implementation of this act would be facing massive setbacks, and seeing how things are run in Pakistan it might take too long. However, if the things are done on literal basis and competently it may perhaps scratch some of our faulty potent cultural aspects.

Source:

[1] The Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016

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