NA passes law against domestic violence
* Government to set up protection committees at tehsil level
By Irfan Ghauri
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill on protection against domestic violence covering all types of repressive and abusive behaviour against vulnerable people in domestic relationships.
The new law would cover not only intentional acts of gender-based, physical and psychological abuse, but also includes “economic abuse, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and any other repressive behaviour” committed against women, children or other vulnerable people, with whom those accused have been or still are in a domestic relationship.
The proposed law – passed as private member’s bill moved by the Pakistan People’s Party’s Yasmeen Rehman – would become an act following its approval by the Senate and the president.
The legislation is aimed at brining domestic violence into the public domain, as such issues are quite common in society but are seldom reported and there is no data available in the country for such crimes.
Under this law, protection committees – each consisting of female councillors, a female SHO, a sub-divisional police officer and a protection officer – would be set up at the tehsil level by provincial governments.
Victims would be able approach the committees to directly or through some other person, which would have to send the case within three days to the area magistrate after fulfilling all legal requirements on behalf of the complainant.
Except where the domestic relationship is based on employment or domestic help, “victims shall not be evicted from the household or any part of it by the accused person during the litigation period”.
The court, on being satisfied that domestic violence has taken place, could pass a protection order in favour of the aggrieved party, in addition to directing the accused person to provide monetary relief. This protection order would remain enforced until the aggrieved party applies for its discharge.
The court – at any stage of the application for the protection order – may grant temporary custody of an aggrieved party.
A breach of protection order by the accused person would be considered an offence punishable with imprisonment – which may extend to a year but would not be less than six months – and a fine not less than Rs 100,000.