Women Protection Bill: its Never Too Late

The aim of the bill is to reduce social injustice against women by discouraging several practices and customs in vogue in the country which are not only against human dignity, but also in contrast with Islamic injunctions.

Whenever came to power Pakistan Peoples Party has been striving, through a number of ways to protect the rights of minorities, children and women. Be it the first regime of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto two terms of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and the present dispensation lead by President Asif Ali Zardar and Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, the history of PPP has been enviable so far as the betterment and welfare of the weaker segments of the society are concerned. The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011, is another milestone achieved by Pakistan Peoples party on its way to empower and enlighten women.

The struggle of women for emancipation and against discrimination has a long history throughout the world. Even in Pakistan, it is the high time to introduce a legal redress to ensure basic rights of women in society and to protect them against discriminatory traditions. The long awaited bill has given a conspicuous form by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid MNA Dr Donya Aziz, was unanimously passed by the lower house headed by a woman Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza on November 16. The bill is focused mainly upon marriage with the holy Quran, forced wedlock, and depriving women from inheritance.

The aim of the bill is to reduce social injustice against women by discouraging several practices and customs in vogue in the country which are not only against human dignity, but also in contrast with Islamic injunctions.

It is, therefore, necessary that such inhumane practices and customs are done away forthwith and those who found guilty should be dealt severely by providing penal and financial liabilities.

The Pakistan Peoples Party’s government has always played a vital role in the empowerment of Pakistani women. Ms Benazir Bhutto has always given priority to legislation that protects the rights of women. A good example to cite in this regard is the creation of a new ministry for Women Development during her regime. The credit of establishing the First Women Bank in 1989 also goes to her government in late 80’s. The Bank is run and managed by female staff throughout the country. Hence, Pakistan Peoples Party has a history as far as uplifting of the status of women is concerned. To support the vision of Benazir Bhutto, socio-economic empowerment of women is imperative. Hence the bill seeks social justice for women by introducing a strict ad rigorous punishment structure for all the excesses done in various shapes and manifestations to almost half of the country population.

Following the traditions and manifesto of Pakistan Peoples Party, the present government has shown a reasonable performance in the given context. Earlier a bill for the Protection of Harassment of women at working places was approved by the legislature. And now ‘The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices’ Bill has passed which can rightly be regarded as a watershed move in the direction of women emancipation freedom in the country, which aims at granting them their due status in the society by blocking ways to cause them unjust and unfair treatment.

The bill can be regarded as a historic piece of legislation. Though the bill was initiated by a private member but all the legislators of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party lent their full support to this bill and got it passed unanimously, which is really commendable. It reflects the government’s commitment to the vision of Benazir Bhutto. Moreover, the unanimous approval of the bill indicates that the political culture in the country is getting matured with every passing day. The members of the lower house rose above the party politics to support the bill. It is a demonstration of collective resolve by political parties to fight social taboos against women.

The bill is widely hailed by the members of the parliament, civil society and intelligentsia. It is no doubt an enormous achievement in the history of parliament in the country. Legislation according to the demands and aspiration of public is the hallmark of democracy. Present government lead by Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani is not only committed to cater the needs of people but also devoted to strengthen the institution of democracy in Pakistan. It wouldn’t be wrong to regard the bill as another milestone achieved for the success of democracy in the country.

Pakistan has yet to develop into a modern welfare state that guaranties the basic fundamental rights to women in there true letter and spirit. The legislation will not only improve the condition of women lot within Pakistan but would also be very helpful in presenting a better image of Pakistan abroad.

Although the legislation is hailed as a step towards giving women their due status in the society, there is lot more to be done in this regard. Particularly changing the centuries old mind set of powerful social group largely influenced by male chauvinism. Moreover, the government should also ensure that the legislation must be followed by a concrete and effective mechanism of implementation of the law.

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani not only congrats the members of the Lower House for passing the bill unanimously but also ensure full support of Pakistan Peoples Party to its implementation. One should remain optimist that the present government will continue its efforts in making the parliament more affective by undertaking legislative business aimed at the overall betterment and welfare of society.

By: Zainab Saeed

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