Pakistan: Punjab Assembly Approves Comprehensive Law on Violence Against Women
Wednesday, March 2, 2016 3:25 PM

The Punjab Assembly recently approved the “Protection of Women Against Violence Bill,” which for the first time prohibits all forms of violence against women in Punjab province, including “domestic violence, sexual violence, psychological and emotional abuse, economic abuse, stalking and cyber crime.” The bill provides for the expedited consideration of victim complaints and for the protection of victims in cases where a violent perpetrator is deemed an ongoing threat. The bill states that violations of protection orders are punishable by one to two years in prison. Additionally, under the new law, Punjab authorities must establish a toll-free helpline, protection centers and shelters for women survivors of violence in the province.

Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan, accounts for a majority of all reported crimes against women in Pakistan, as of 2013. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) welcomed the new law, but said, “The change in law would only make a difference if there is effective enforcement and . . . oversight.” The HRCP also stated that it hopes the Punjab bill will spur similar action on the federal level in Pakistan, which currently lacks comprehensive national legislation on violence against women. 

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Pakistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women due to “[d]omestic abuse, economic discrimination and acid attacks,” as well as forced and child marriage, honor crimes, sexual violence and kidnappings.

Compiled from: Punjab Assembly Criminalises All Forms of Violence Against Women, Pakistan Today (February 24, 2016); Hashim, Asad, Pakistan province passes landmark law protecting women against violence, Reuters (February 25, 2016); Bhalla, Nita, Pakistan's Punjab must enforce new law on violence against women: rights group, Reuters (February 25, 2016).